The Pelicans will face the 10-12 Detroit Pistons in New Orleans on Wednesday night. Here are factors that will influence the game, as well as potential entertaining or interesting occurrence.
The sole challenger to Anthony Davis’ draft-class supremacy, Andre Drummond is very good, and very entertaining. Jason Smith and the Pelicans froncourt rotation will not have the size and speed to individually defend Drummond. The defensive treatment of Drummond in the pick and roll, and Drummond’s response, will be a significant factor. Crashing down on help defense leaves the perimeter exposed, but Drummond cannot yet make the quick off-the-catch reads needed to hit open shooters, not that the Pistons have too many to worry about.
Who Guards Ryan Anderson:
I would not be surprised if Josh Smith, the nominal small forward, defended Anderson rather than Greg Monroe. Anderson simply operates too far from the basket and across too much space for Monroe to defend him effectively, while a cross-match onto Al-Farouq Aminu does little to threaten the Pistons defense.
Optimizing the Pelicans’ Defensive System:
I’m not the biggest fan of the Pelicans “no penetration at all costs” philosophy, as the combination of weak defensive bigs forces hyper-aggressive perimeter help that leaves the three point line consistently undefended. However, against a Pistons team starting Drummond, Monroe, Smith, and Brandon Jennings, the Pelicans pack-the-paint defense may be especially effective.