An Easy Way to Improve the Offense

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Published: April 27, 2017

Did you watch the video of the Houston Rockets bench laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws? I did and I laughed. But then I was hit with a fear…what if this was the New Orleans Pelicans?

Think about it for a second. The Pelicans have two bigs in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins that combined get to the line 15.7 times per game. That gives the Pelicans a strong head start on getting into the bonus early.

But the Pelicans haven’t been able to take advantage of it. They ranked just 14th after the Cousins trade with 22.4 free throw attempts per game. That means the rest of the team combined for just 6.7 free throws per game.

What’s worse is the Pelicans shot pretty poorly from the line ranking just 21st (post trade) at 76.1%. Some of this had to do with Jrue Holiday having a down year from the line at 70.8% while his career average is 78.8%. And if he returns to the team a regression to the mean should improve those numbers.

If the Pelicans offense starts clicking next year, and we saw glimpses of what it could be, teams could easily derail it by fouling. The Pelicans will still want to push the ball up the court and score easy baskets in transition, but teams could easily shut that down with a *GASP* hack-a-Cunningham. Sending Roberson to the line derailed the Oklahoma City offense at times.

Now, I don’t think the Pelicans should make this their primary identity as Kumar wrote about (though it certainly is something to consider). But Dell Demps and company should definitely target guys who not only hit their free throws but players who get to the line. That 6.7 number needs to increase even if it’s just a little bit. This is also on the coaching staff as well. They need to tell guys to be more aggressive.

Davis and Cousins give the Pelicans a head start, it’s up to the rest of the team to finish it.

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