New Orleans Pelicans: Stan Van Gundy must improve his outdated offense

The New Orleans Pelicans offense needs fixing. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Pelicans offense needs fixing. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Pelicans had one of the best attacks in the league last year. Now, the offense is petering out. What happened?

The New Orleans Pelicans have lost twice in a row for the first time this season after a 111-110 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

It was a disheartening loss for the Pelicans and, frankly, an avoidable one against a team that will likely end up with one of the worst records in the NBA. The Pelicans held their opponents to less than 100 points thrice over the first five games of the season. New Orleans’ opponents have now scored over 110 points in the last three games, a worrying setback for Stan Van Gundy.

But while the defense has at least shown potential at times this season, the same cannot be said for the offense.

The Pelicans currently score the sixth-least points in the league, flanked by the likes of the Thunder, the Charlotte Hornets, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the New York Knicks—all widely expected to be lottery teams, not playoff teams. The Pelicans are also the second-worst three-point shooting team in the league, only behind the Cavs by a measly decimal.

New Orleans’ crawling offense is a stark contrast to last season’s offensive firepower under Alvin Gentry. The Pelicans were third in the league in pace—a good decision given the array of savvy open court players—and ninth in three-point attempt rate, the statistic which looks at how many of a team’s shots come from deep. Although Gentry’s iterations of the Pelicans had flaws, they played to the roster’s strengths and appreciated the most valuable shot in basketball.

Now, the Pelicans are the seventh slowest team in the NBA and their quantity of three-pointers has also crashed. The explanation for this is Van Gundy’s logical focus on defense, but a balance has to be struck.