Pelicans Scoop: Let’s Boogie!

Despite the slim playoff chances the New Orleans Pelicans have been improving. Some of our writers weigh in on what’s been happening with the team. Agree or disagree with us? Let us know on twitter @bourbonstshots!

1) The Pelicans are now 7-7 since the DeMarcus Cousins trade and 6-2 over their last eight games. How have you seen this team progressing?

Jake Madison: The bump up in offense is largely due to two areas. The first is this offense is, for lack of a better word, gelling. Players know where to be right now, they understand the new reads they need to make and where teammates will be. The second is the increase in play from role-players–particularly their shooting. After the trade the Pelicans we’re the worst shooting team in the league. Now they are not and they are scoring more. Sometimes it is just that simple.

Jason Calmes: I’m happy with the improvement. Cousins joining the team was a major shift, especially Holiday whose role really changed. The real progress is in passing. Gentry’s system doesn’t thrive on guards, it thrives on passing. Find a decent shot, take it, get back. It’s not about footspeed, though that’s a tool. It’s about getting the ball to a decent spot. Not a spot some nerd screams about because, through his singular genius, notice that a 3-point shot is worth more than a 2-point shot (something I had to endure this very week for some so-called reason) . . . but a spot where the player can take a shot in the flow of the game relatively uncontested. When that fails, just do something, but try to find the shot early in the set. Boogie is an underrated passer, can dribble well-enough to get out of trouble inside, and he’s a target for passes. This is the triple threat that teach you, what, day 1? It’s not that difficult, or, it shouldn’t be.

Mason Ginsberg: There is no question that there have been growing pains since the Cousins addition, and things are still far from sorted out. But, apart from Boogie putting the entire team on his back on Wednesday night, the thing that has been at the core of the Pels’ recent improvement has been the role players. Solomon Hill suddenly finding his confidence on offense, Jordan Crawford’s offensive punch off the bench, and the uptick in minutes played together between Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier have all been crucial to the team’s recent success, and is exactly what they’ll need moving forward (at minimum) if they want to have any shot at miraculously sneaking into the playoffs.

Kumar: Defensively they haven’t missed a beat. The true progression has come on offense. While they are still trying to iron out the kinks that come with trying to play Davis and Cousins together, they very clearly have added plays that take advantage of the pairing. Rotations are also staggered to keep on of them on the floor at all times. The set plays they have put in place have helped both stars and role players alike find their place and spots within the offense. To me this is measurable progress. With a full training camp and an upgraded roster, the Pels will be in a much better position going forward.


2) How do you feel about DeMarcus Cousins’ play overall? Is he doing the things you thought he would be?

JM: It’s been great. It was always going to be an adjustment in how to effectively score while getting the ball less. But Cousins has shown he can still do that in multiple different ways. He’s hitting three’s as the trailing man in transition. Getting the Pelicans into the bonus earlier than they usually do. He’s facilitating the offense and creating more ball movement. And if the team needs it he can take over and get to the hoop like he did against Memphis.

42: I’m more than happy. He’s bringing everything I wanted and more. Offense, passing, and some passion. Rebounds help. I feel like he’s really trying to fit in while people are trying to fit with him. It’s an adjustment, and he’s got his idiosyncrasies. I’ll take them. I’ll take the fouls and the rotation challenges. I really do think he’s playing well, the team will keep getting better, and the Pelicans will pose some challenges for other teams who are designed to defend the norm.

MG: Watching a player for a few games a year and studying his stat line is obviously different than seeing what he is truly like game in and game out. There are parts of Cousins game that are more pleasing than I expected and also elements that are more frustrating than expected. For example, his willingness to shoot open threes is something that can really help to open up the floor for Davis or other attacking guards when floor spacing is lacking elsewhere, but he also has gotten lazy too often, opting to camp out around the arc rather than attack and draw fouls down low. Regardless, Cousins has largely been the player who I expected, and I think we need to wait until he has gone through a full training camp with the team before rushing to any major conclusions about how he fits.

K: Boogie has been everything they said he would be. From an unstoppable force under the basket to one who sometimes fails to get back on defense while arguing for calls. Over a span of a few possessions you can get the full Boogie experience. But he has undoubtedly raised the ceiling of this team to one I could not have foreseen anytime in the near future. As he gets more time to mesh with the roster and AD, Boogie will feel more comfortable with playing within the offense. Right now it seems AD and Boogie are trying not to get into each other’s ways and DeMarcus is having to create a lot of his own offense. I anticipate this will get cleaner and easier as time goes on. The only thing I would really like to see is Boogie get in better shape this offseason.


3) Head coach Alvin Gentry has been on the under a microscope all season long, what are you thoughts on him right now?

JM: I try and stay balanced on this. Is Gentry my ideal coach? No. If I was given carte blanche, or just like a bag full of money, I’d replace him. That said, this team has looked good recently and they, I want to stress this, are playing Alvin Gentry-style basketball. Look at the pace of the team with Cousins. It matches up with what they have done all year. Same with fast break points. Cousins is just the trailing man in transition. So, I think the while concept that Gentry can’t coach two bigs, or that the Pelicans play differently without Cousins, is a lot of bull. Not the best coach, but the coach the Pelicans have now; and with an upgraded roster and an offseason worth of work, you can see this team could be a top offense.

42: Man, this is overblown. The microscope matters far less than the person using it. I don’t think Gentry was in trouble this season unless he lost the team or a real coaching icon decided to coach in New Orleans. I was a little worried about the first one after an early performance against the Lakers, but that was just a blip. I’m less worried about that now, but it’s slightly more likely that one of “those coaches” would show up in NOLA, though still not likely. The ownership situation being more stable helps that, too. All the roles of a head coach are being fulfilled welI by Gentry. Players are missing open shots and there are decision-making problems, but the staff can’t overcome all that instantaneously. The defense has improved, effort is more consistent, but some of the execution is a problem. I expected a 0.500 team, and that’s essentially what this team is excepting the time Holiday missed. So, the team is literally performing at my expectations, ups and downs accounted for. I think Gentry will be under tremendous pressure next season if the team isn’t, wire to wire, looking like a playoff lock, but I’ve ignored that gum-flapping this season. We’ll see if things change.

MG: I’d be lying if I said that I have been happy with the Pelicans’ performance under Gentry; that being said, I think it is important to note that this season has been such an uphill battle with Jrue missing the first month of the season, and therefore a decent amount of Gentry’s criticism from the fan base is unwarranted. I think that giving him the chance to make the necessary stylistic adjustments this off-season is completely reasonable, but I also think that the question of “is Alvin Gentry the right coach for this new roster?” is a fair one to ask. I still have confidence in Gentry’s ability to turn the Pelicans into a winner with enough talent at his disposal, but is the the best option to lead an AD/Boogie front line to contention?

K: My thoughts are the same as the always have been. Gentry has had the short end of the stick when it comes to the players on the roster he has coached in his time here. Whether that is due to injuries, or a revolving door of 10-day contracts -Gentry has not had the opportunity to coach largely the same team he had at training camp. I don’t buy the reports that Pelicans brass needs to see “significant progress” if Gentry wants to keep his job. No front office (I don’t think) makes decisions based off 3-4 weeks of play, nor do they set arbitrary benchmarks midseason. The media can put the microscope on Genty all they want, I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen what kind of players the Pelicans bring in this offseason and if they can muster a lineup that plays more than 200 minutes – a luxury Gentry hasn’t had during his stay in New Orleans. Erman has already transformed the defense into a borderline top 5 one, I am optimistic Gentry can spit out an above average offense next year.

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