With Alvin Gentry coming into New Orleans this season, you’re almost tempted to take everything that we know about the Pelicans’ offense from recent years and just toss it in the garbage can. The Pelicans played as the fourth slowest team in the league last season. Through their seven preseason games, they played at the eighth fastest pace in the league. Granted, that’s preseason, but it shows a drastic change in terms of philosophy and pace.
It’s no secret that this team’s offense is going to revolve around Anthony Davis and the opportunities that will be created for him by playing at a faster pace. However, the health of Jrue Holiday is huge for this offense. He’s been banged up for both seasons that he’s been in New Orleans, but there’s no question that the offense has been at its best and will be at its best under Gentry when he and not Norris Cole is running the point guard position.
I don’t think anyone is questioning the offense of the Pelicans under Gentry just as no one is questioning the individual defensive talent of Anthony Davis. That being said, the defense as a whole is a major question mark for this team.
Despite the presence of Davis and a perceived rim-protector in Asik, the Pelicans were in the bottom half of the league in terms of defensive rating. While a change of culture might be good for the defense of this team, you have to wonder if they’ll be able to be an elite defensive team while transitioning to playing a much faster pace under Gentry.
One of the things that made the Warriors so dominant last season with Gentry as an assistant is that they were able to lead the league in pace while also being the best defensive team in the league. The thing is, that’s completely unprecedented and one of the reasons why the Warriors won an unreal 67 games this season. The real question about the Pelicans is if they can improve defensively as a unit—which being healthy and gaining some kind of consistency would undoubtedly help—while playing a faster brand of basketball.
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