New Orleans Pelicans Take On New Orleans Pelicans in Sacramento

Published: January 13, 2016

The New Orleans Pelicans (11-26, not that it matters) take on the New Orleans Pelicans (11-26, not that it matters) tonight at 9:00 pm CT (UTC -6). Oddly, they are playing in Sacramento, where the Kings (15-22) will be on the court, too. This contest concludes the road trip. The game is on Fox Sports New Orleans and the Pelicans Radio Network, 99.5 FM locally.

Anthony Davis is Questionable for the game, and we’ll be updated in a bit on his status. The injury report and depth chart remain unchanged from last night.

Update: Davis is expected to play based, at least in part, on his personal assessment of his comfort.

To win this game, the Pelicans need to play hard and play smart while generating enough turnovers from the Pelicans to keep that going, particularly in key points of the game.

Some observations about the team going into this game:

  • The team is 6 games out of the 8th seed, currently holding the 8th seed. Just a week or so ago, you could find people selling this team’s potential to get into the playoffs due to just being 4 games out of the playoffs. At least, this fact was being trumpeted. Here, I pointed out that several other teams were in even better positions, and this was ignored. Now, we see some of those same trumpeters overcompensating for the errors by blasting the team. Both stances are irrational. This team has had a tough road for a while, improvement aside, and it’s very easy to tell who is punishing the team with weak, unsupported rhetoric because their analysis was not just wrong but very wrong. Long-standing and just-created agendas are sprouting from all corners. It’s pretty sad.
  • With Pondexter’s planned surgery and the result of him missing the season, the team’s perimeter defense will likely not improve enough to really judge the defensive system’s potential without a trade. However, the defensive improvement is clear. This team’s issue is offense, as I stated for a while, and that fact is completely head-scratching.
  • I’m not sure what’s going on with Eric Gordon, but it’s something I’m keeping an eye on. He’s played low minutes (for him, who leads the team in minutes played, is 3rd in minutes per game, and has played in each game so far this season (along with Gee)) in two of the past 4 games and has been absent in key minutes.
  • Again, at least one issue with this team is fundamental basketball. Anyone discounting this is covering up their ignorance of basketball. It’s very difficult to judge any level of team play when the players do not run the team plays well or at as teammates often enough. Gentry, I think, has not caused this, as the roster is much the same as it was last season, so we know these players can in fact play, at least when under Monty’s loss averse thumb. Gentry’s system is based on and Gentry demands autonomy. This is how good teams are run, so it’s not poor coaching to demand this if the goal is to build a next level basketball team. However, if the players, or enough of them, fail to respond well to the freedom and responsibility, then it all fails. To what degree a coach demands conformance and performance from his players versus tailoring a system around the actual players (their strengths, weaknesses, preferences, personalities, and more) . . . the real answer is a mix that varies from player-to-player . . . is for the coach to determine and for the GM to have input on. If their decisions are poor, that is, of course, their errors to live with. In this case, Gentry has a roster that he had very little input on (due to cap constraints last season for this team, something that can be pinned on Dell), and it’s not clear to me that a final judgment on Gentry is appropriate. However, it can be said that he’s done a poor job is working with that he has in terms of producing wins and playing good enough basketball for long enough. That is certainly a valid criticism, but it’s one he can overcome with improving the team’s play.
  • Whether or not Gentry caused this, it’s on him to fix it on the court. Dell was certainly instrumental in constructing this roster and this cap situation. Again, if he’s been playing for a big “cash in,” then his failure to generate one up to this point is certainly a valid criticism of his work, and a more significant on than that of Gentry, but it is also recoverable if he can trade in these chips, if that is in fact what they are.
  • Every game where I see rotation changes, I do my best to give these guys some “points” for trying, but the changes are not significant enough. They need to try bigger changes, and the lack of Davis recently is not an excuse. They did ok against the Clippers, who were shorthanded, and it’s not like the Lakers weren’t “missing” “Anthony Davis” too. At some point, the team has to play well, win or lose, even if the key player is down. When they do not, it just exposes the flaws all the more clearly.
  • Much is made of Gentry’s continual mentioning of effort. To be clear, it is used to imply or as direct evidence that he simply does not know what he’s talking about or refuses to address the situation. A simpler explanation is that he is uttering a so-called “half-truth.” What he’s saying may or may not be particularly true at the time, but there is truth to it. However, key facts about the state of affairs are left out or misrepresented to further an agenda. This is a mode of persuading, likely, as opposed to a mode of informing. Also, this is likely being used to cover up real problems with particular players. In no uncertain terms, this what Monty did more often than not. He immediately took the blame or deflected real probes with platitudes when the real answer would implicate a player or an organizational decision. Gentry is dealing with roster problem, not coaching and speaking ineptitude of prodigious proportion. Now, he may be a coaching disaster, but that argument doesn’t show it in part or in total.

I’ll check in after the game or tomorrow, depending on how much I need to think. Not all analysis is an “instant” reaction, and sooooo much bad analysis comes from defending this brand of nearly-thoughtless writing.

Check out McNamara’s latest, as well. He raises very good points, as is custom. I don’t agree with him completely, as is custom, particularly the comment about Silver, but I’m not out to pound the rocks on an agenda; I’m here to prompt our readers to the best analysis they can get.

Look for a special podcast, too, with a new guest.

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