The New Orleans Pelicans need help in the paint.
Unfortunately the Utah Jazz exposed the way to beat the New Orleans Pelicans, which is to just keep pounding the ball down low.
The Pelicans are soft in the paint and the Utah Jazz figured it out in the second half, getting to the rim at will and finding little resistance once they got there.
While Utah had six blocks, the Pels only had two, and none of them came from any of the centers or power forwards.
This is because the Pelicans do not have a true rim protector on the roster, don’t have enough size, and at this point, have a very difficult time stopping teams down low
The Jazz had 56 points in the paint in the first bubble game, more than the Pels’ season average of 53.1 allowed, which is 28th in the NBA.
The Pelicans have only one player (Derrick Favors) who averages at least a block per game but Favors was a step too slow last night and gave up a lot of lobs and dunks.
Favors isn’t really a center, and though he is a solid defender, is not a rim protector and certainly doesn’t intimidate anyone or affect shots.
The points in the paint conundrum is not only the fault of the bigs, as the Pelicans let up way too much dribble penetration, which at times makes it tough on their centers.
But last night Utah was taking it to the rim with impunity, completely undaunted by Favors. Jaxson Hayes did a little better, and did affect some shots, but ended the night with zero blocks and is still too weak to body guys like Gobert full time.
The New Orleans Pelicans must look for rim protection in the offseason.
The Pelicans wish list for this offseason should include nothing but defenders because it is the real weakness of this team.
The Pelicans not only have to find a center who can actually affect shots at the rim, but they need some size on the wing so that Jrue Holiday doesn’t get stuck guarding guys that are six inches taller.
The Pelicans have some good individual defenders, but do a poor job keeping teams out of the lane or stopping them once they get there.
They need to look at a guy like Nerlens Noel in the offseason, a big who can block and affect shots down low. Favors is not the answer and might have lost some of his playing time to Hayes, who was more effective on both ends.
David Griffin has some tough decisions to make regarding his own free agents, but anyone who cannot defend should be shown the door and replaced with someone who can.