Musings on the Start of the Boogie and the Brow Era
On the surface the early returns for the Pelicans after the DeMarcus Cousins trade haven’t looked good. For a team with playoff expectations a 2-5 record after acquiring and All-Star isn’t going to get fans excited. But I wouldn’t say things are as bad as the record indicates. There’s definitely bad in there, though. But also good. Some assorted thoughts…
–The Pelicans have hit a bad, bad, bad shooting slump since the trade. They are shooting a league worst 42.4% overall. And it only goes downhill from there: the Pelicans shoot 32.6% on open looks, and 35.4% on wide open looks. That is an almost unsustainable number. If the Pelicans hit just a few more open shots that 2-5 record looks a whole lot different.
–The biggest positive is that the Pelicans are generating more open and wide open looks since the Cousins trade than they were before it. Creating more open looks should (unless you’re this team) lead to more made shots, so this is a good trend for the Pelicans. This is due to Cousins and Davis being constantly double or triple teamed.
–A lot of Cousins’ turnovers are coming because of this. While Cousins is a tremendous passing big, right now he doesn’t seem to trust his teammates. 1) It takes time to do that. 2) Should he really be trusting anyone outside of Davis and Holiday? So he’d rather try and score through a double/triple team than pass. With, in theory, better role players the turnovers should decrease.
–Rebounding has been an issue with both Davis and Cousins on the court at the same time which is honestly quite surprising. When both are on the court the Pelicans are grabbing just 71.7% of all available defensive rebounds. That’s low for two dominant big men. The issue is two-fold. First, smart teams will consistently pull one or both out to the perimeter, leaving them unable to help on the glass. The Pelicans aren’t used to gang rebounding, and are instead trying to leak out in transition. This is leading to a lot of long offensive rebounds. Pelicans, as a team, need to focus on the defensive glass.
–When adding in Cousins, a lot of adjustments need to be made on the defensive side. With one of the bigs being pulled out of the paint the defense isn’t just as simple as funneling perimeter players into them. This leaves the Pelicans in a weird spot of trying to switch or funnel. And often the defenders do not know what to do. Which means you see the worst of both worlds.
–When both are on the court either Cousins or Davis need to be in the low post. Often you see both hanging back near the three point line. I’m not sure if its laziness or what. Cousins is so dominant down low that it would open things up even more if he got more touches there. The problem is the Pelicans don’t have guys who can make good entry passes to Boogie in that situation.
–With Holiday’s struggles you can clearly see the need for another combo guard or pure point to let Jrue play off the ball more. Jrue, more than anyone else, was going to have the biggest adjustment after this trade. Spacing is different, his play style is expected to change, and he falls in the pecking order. That is not easy to handle after just 7 games. Hopefully he can figure everything out over these remaining 18 games.
A 2-5 record is certainly a disappointment but when the shooting starts to regress to the mean (which it almost certainly has to, right?) this offense has the potential to come alive. And with Dell Demps having a shocking amount of flexibility this offseason adding the right pieces could vault the Pelicans even more.
Time will tell.