Every NBA team is just about halfway through the regular season schedule and it's hard to think of a bigger disappointment than the New Orleans Pelicans. Maybe the Milwaukee Bucks? Nevertheless, after getting their feet wet in the postseason last year, a safe assumption was shared by many that the Pelicans would continue to trend upward heading into this season. You can point to injuries as the prime reason why New Orleans is taking a 14-27 record into their game with the Pistons but in the end, you are what your record says you are.
Sounds like an easy W for Detroit, right?
Not exactly. The Pelicans scored 72 first half points and were up by as many as 23 points in the third quarter to cruise to a 115-99 victory over the Pistons, who were playing the second night of a back-to-back. Detroit continued with it's consistently inconsistent play and let another, at least on paper, winnable game get away from them early.
Class of 2012
During DBB's preview, a simple question was asked: Would you rather have Andre Drummond or Anthony Davis?For those that answered Drummond, bless your hearts but unfortunately, you're looking through Pistons colored glasses. You really can't go wrong with either but there is a clear winner and it's Davis. That's not a knock on Drummond, rather that's just how good the Pelicans' center is. Davis finished with 32 points on 13/23 shooting but it's the variety in shot selection and how those shots developed that, offensively, separates the two. Davis has the ability to create his own shot, catch and shoot in the mid-range, dart down the lane to finish a lob and has even added a three-point shot to his arsenal.
Ersan Ilyasova initially drew the short straw and started out checking Davis and was clearly outclassed; it's a tall order for anyone and by no means does the fault fall on Ilyasova's shoulders. Marcus Morris tried to body up Davis but he just shot over him. When it became Drummond's turn, Davis lured him to the perimeter and fed off jump shots. He's a tough cover.
Statistically, Andre Drummond put up fantastic numbers collecting 19 points, 22 rebounds and four steals. By all means, a great outing. Davis' offense comes from all over as Drummond continued to do most of his damage in the paint. Clearly a different skill set. Most of the teams in the league are drooling over bigs who can shoot but all it takes is one dominant paint player to swing back that thought process and Drummond is still young enough to possibly be that player. If Greg Oden could've stayed healthy or if Andrew Bynum actually cared about basketball, the landscape of the league would be totally different. Instead of looking for seven footers who can shoot, the league would need answers to Oden and Bynum. So while Davis is the winner as of today, that answer can easily change over the next 5-7 years.
Point guard advantage
The Pelicans used a three point guard system to attack the Pistons with Norris Cole, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday sharing most of the ball handling duties. All three lived in the paint but penetrated with much different styles. Cole's quickness, Evans' herky-jerky motion and Holiday's hesitation had one thing in common: they were all successful and played a part in the Pelicans scoring 60 points in the paint.
Of all Pistons players, Reggie Jackson takes the cake as the King of Jekyll-and-Hyde play. Jackson scored eight points on 4-for-11 shooting, and was largely ineffective and rather underwhelming. This continues to be the trend for Jackson as his up and down play usually dictates a win or loss for the Pistons.
Brandon Jennings continued his role as a tempo switch which led to 20 points and five assists on the night. Jennings has never been shy to shoot and in this role he should thrive moving forward. There were times in which he was clearly out of control but the reward outweighed the risk in trying to mount any kind of offense during a comeback attempt.
Ryan Anderson is widely speculated as a potential Pistons target either at February's trade deadline or during the summer's free agency session. Anderson has history with Stan Van Gundy in Orlando and his skill set is something that fits the Pistons profile, but is Anderson worth the money he'll no doubt be looking for?
Ryan Anderson is a stretch four who can bang on the boards, especially offensively, when asked. He's limited on defense and he's never going to wow you with athleticism. Doesn't that description sound familiar? It should. In Ersan Ilyasova, the Pistons already employ an Anderson-lite. Across the board, Anderson is a better player but would the Pistons be in a better position getting 75% of Anderson's production with Ilyasova at (more than likely) half the cost? I'm not sure how much the Pistons improve with Anderson. It doesn't exactly move the needle to me.
Back-to-back games are never easy and being on the road sure doesn't help. The Pelicans record says they're a bad team but the individual talent says otherwise. Even after a horrible start, New Orleans is only four games out of the Western Conference playoff picture.
For the Pistons, their attention turns to Saturday's opponent, the Denver Nuggets.