New Orleans Pelicans Outsider’s Perspective: Questions with Thunderous Intentions’ Tony Heim

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Anthony Davis
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Anthony Davis /

The New Orleans Pelicans visit the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday. Friday is the beginning of a back-to-back for the Pels that finishes Saturday in Minnesota.

The New Orleans Pelicans will be able to smile a little bit Saturday with newly acquired Niko Mirotic expected to play. Friday however, they’ll be undermanned with only 10 possible players available. Two being guys playing on two-way contracts in Mike James and Charles Cooke. The Thunder aren’t coming in not exactly well-rested themselves after playing a late exciting game in Denver Thursday. To learn more about the Thunder before Friday’s contest we were lucky enough to speak with Tony Heim, the site editor from “Thunderous Intentions”. He was able to offer us wonderful insight as we bring you another installment of Outsider’s Perspective.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – FEBRUARY26: New Orleans Pelicans Forward Anthony Davis (23) shooting a technical foul versus Oklahoma City Thunder on February 26, 2017, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena Oklahoma City, OK. (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – FEBRUARY26: New Orleans Pelicans Forward Anthony Davis (23) shooting a technical foul versus Oklahoma City Thunder on February 26, 2017, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena Oklahoma City, OK. (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

1. The Thunder have been extremely entertaining this season. I’m sure they’ve also been a headache at times. After hovering around .500 for most of the season, the Thunder took off on a recent eight-game winning streak. Even after losing their previous two, is it safe to say they’ve turned a corner?

If Andre Roberson was still in the fold I’d say yes, it is extremely safe to say they’ve turned the corner. But with his season-ending injury, the component that made this team a legitimate contender (elite defense) is now in jeopardy. Billy Donovan is going to have to re-adjust the defensive schemes to fit this personal, the one without the arguable Defensive Player of the Year. Through three games (plus the other 10 game he missed this season) I’m not sure there’s a formula that can overcome his loss.

2. Even though his offensive struggles, Andre Roberson is a very underrated, essential piece for OKC. Talk about how big his absence is, and how the Thunder plan to replace him.

I kinda just answered this question, but that’s truly how important The Lowkey MVP is to this team. Without Roberson, the Thunder don’t have their perimeter communicator. They don’t have the guy they enlist to shut down a team’s best player. They don’t have their best offensive off-ball mover. Dre does everything on the court exceptionally well, except the most noticeable skill in the game: shoot. It’s really a shame that the one downside in his game is the only thing people focus on because he truly is one of the better overall role players in this league. And that’s why the Thunder truly can’t replace him. Bringing in Tony Allen is the closest replica to Dre on the open market, but at 36-years old I don’t know how much I trust him to play 20+ minutes in the Playoffs. Especially considering a Pelicans team in win-now mode agreed to get rid of him.

3. It seems as if Paul George and Russell Westbrook have really hit it off well. While Carmelo Anthony has seemed out of place at times. What’s the key to making that experiment work? Is there a way to truly get the best out of all three?

Carmelo has actually done a great job fitting in with these two. It took him a couple months to understand he needed to be the third option, the catch-and-shoot stretch forward. But once he did that the Thunder offense has blossomed. Oklahoma City went from a bottom 20 offense to a top 10 offense in a matter of months, solely because those three established the Russ-PG-Melo hierarchy. The offense really isn’t the issue any longer (except for the bench); what Billy Donovan and the Thunder truly have to focus in on is the defensive end.

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4. What’s the biggest misconception about the Thunder?

Good question – the public has a plethora of misconceptions about Oklahoma City. I could go with Russell Westbrook’s philosophy of stats > wins. The idea that the Thunder’s front office is weak is another good example. Ultimately I’m going to say that the OK3 is composed of Russ, PG, and Melo. It’s not even a discussion really – Steven Adams is far superior to Carmelo in terms of impact on both ends of the floor. Adams is like Dre in that he does all the little things for this team, but he also has the counting stats to make him a legitimate All-NBA candidate this season. The Big Kiwi leads the league in offensive rebounds, offensive rating AND is third in field goal percentage. He’s just too big and too strong for this modern NBA. It’s time the rest of the world takes note of his abilities.

5. Outsider Perspective on the New Orleans Pelicans

As an avid DeMarcus Cousins fans, I’m incredibly sad about his injury. Going into the season I took a risk and proclaimed that New Orleans was going to make the Playoffs because both he and Anthony Davis would be so dynamic after an offseason together. As you know, that thought proved to be correct. The Nikola Mirotic trade was a smart deal for them especially considering he’s already opted in. I think Boogie returns, and with Jrue Holiday also in place, the Pelicans have the opportunity to attract some solid role players to join them this offseason. Having the two top centers in the league is just such a conundrum for the NBA’s current landscape, that this team truthfully only needs to solidify their perimeter to be a legitimate contender come next season.

Next: Previewing NOLA vs OKC

That’s a wrap for our time with Tony. Make sure to follow him @tony_heim  and the Thunder @thunderousint. You can follow us as always @PelicanDebrief. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game.