The New Orleans Pelicans will have a dramatically different roster next season but they still have some of the same problems.
They will have new faces in the starting lineup, with three starters moved in trades this offseason.
It’s going to be a lot for new coach Willie Green to work through, but a younger, more athletic roster also offers some exciting possibilities around Zion Williamson.
Even though there have been some big changes to the roster, some old weaknesses still remain, and the Pelicans are going to have to improve them if they want to make the leap into the playoffs in the Western Conference.
The New Orleans Pelicans don’t block enough shots
Rim protection has been a problem for the Pelicans for two seasons and it still will be unless some of the new players step up.
The Pelicans were 24th in the NBA in blocked shots per game and didn’t have a single player on their roster average at least one per game.
Blocked shots not only stop points but they alter shots, as teams think twice before coming into the lane. Not only that, but blocks often turn into fast breaks, which is what you want when you have guys who can finish in transition.
Steven Adams wasn’t much of a shot blocker but Jonas Valanciunas is not a big improvement, though reserve center Jaxson Hayes has shown signs of big growth in that area with some strong games down the stretch.
Hopefully the additions of Trey Murphy III, Herbert Jones and a full season of Naji Marshall will lead to more blocked shots, fewer easy buckets for opponents and more fast breaks for the Pelicans but it is a stat to watch this season.