A troubling theme of inconsistency is clouding the recent play of the New Orleans Pelicans and their hopes for the playoffs this year.
The New Orleans Pelicans have started their back half of the season in a discouraging way. This is still happening, after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins via the trade deadline.
New Orleans are winners in just three of its past seven games since the All-Star Break. Many are speculating that the acquisition of Cousins has perhaps shaken the team’s chemistry. Other speculations are the team has yet to utilize him efficiently.
However, perhaps nothing has changed at all for the Pelicans. Perhaps they have been merely playing upon a similar theme all season long:
The New Orleans Pelicans provided strong showings against the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. That’s despite losing both games within close margins. However, against the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz, the Pelicans took losses while putting up only 83 points in both matchups.
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It is not the pretty start of the “Boogie-Brow Era” fans expected. Coaching of the team has also seen plenty of blame by man. That perhaps may be true, but there is another underlying issue here.
At the age of only 24, Anthony Davis has been expected to be the team leader since his rookie days. However, taking on the role of this responsibility is certainly no easy task. In fact, it could be an even more difficult task than his athletic sky hooks.
It doesn’t take a microscope to clearly see that when the team is playing well, it is a result of team confidence. The ball moves well, defense is stellar and the players are making shots.
On the other side of it all is when the team scores only 80-some points or gets obliterated against a team like the Brooklyn Nets of 143 – 114. During such games, body language of the Pelicans speaks louder than any actual voices by any team member.
There is simply a need for someone to step up and lead the team. Unfortunately, Davis still has much to learn from this. But the leadership problem doesn’t exactly all fall on Davis and nor should it. The bench itself has yet to find any team member willing to step up and test his reigns.
The second unit has contributed to the team’s inconsistencies just as much as the starters have. Even after having a roster shakeup after the deadline, the second unit is still struggling up to this point.
There have been times, however, when E’Twaun Moore has shown some flashes of confidence. However, it is not enough to spur any significant impact.
If the New Orleans Pelicans are to become a powerhouse team in the near future, there needs to be some form of leadership.
There is no question in Davis’ skills and abilities as a player. He is nothing short of superstar caliber. However, possessing skills at the game and being a leader are two incredibly, very different attributes.
That being said, Davis is still young with many years ahead of him. In the past, Davis himself has reiterated the fact, saying he still has much to learn
As long as players and fans around him can be patient, there is no question that once Davis progresses as a leader, the Pelicans will truly become special and solve the problem of its inconsistencies.
In the meantime, with the team continuing to struggle the way they have been, the probability of the Pelicans making the playoffs are becoming a long reach. At the pace this team is playing, along with other teams fighting for the last playoff spot, the Pelicans would need to win 12 of their last 17 games.
The best the New Orleans Pelicans could do moving forward for the rest of this season is to find its chemistry. That means having Davis progress as a leader, and look to its offseason transactions—especially with the question mark of Jrue Holiday.