The move that a lot of Pelicans fans have been waiting for became a reality Monday night. Dante Cunningham was taken out of the starting lineup replaced by E’Twuan Moore. Now while some (including myself) would have preferred giving Darius Miller a shot, Gentry decided to go with Moore.
Dante got most of the backup big minutes and seemed to bring a little energy off the bench. He seems to fit this role better, as guy who comes in and does a lot of dirty work and occasionally knocks down a corner 3. While Gentry said it wasn’t a demotion for Cunningham I don’t see how you can look at it any other way, he was not getting it done in the starting unit. When Rondo returned the Pelicans basically had their hand forced, they needed more shooters in that starting 5. Dante and Rondo can not be in that starting 5 together, especially the way Dante has been shooting the ball.
Now, who should have that fifth spot with the starting spot is up for debate. Allen, Moore, and Miller all bring something a little different. Tony Allen is that high IQ defensive minded guy the Pelicans need, I just don’t think it works with that lineup.
Moore is a guy who can knock down open shots and handle the ball, he also is a pretty solid defender for his position. He’s a little undersized to guard the small forward position but he tends to play a bit bigger.
However, the more and more I see of Darius Miller it just seems he is the guy to put in that starting 5. He has the size and has been serviceable on the defensive end of the floor. He is also showing a lot more to his game as far as driving to the basket, taking a little floater, or passing to an open cutter or shooter. Oh, and he can shoot it lights out from anywhere on the court. Could it be just a hot streak he is on? Sure, but why not take advantage of that and get him even more open looks.
I think the obvious thing has occurred with taking Dante out of the starting lineup, now the Pelicans just need to find out who can stick as his replacement. Maybe a month from now it will be someone completely different, maybe it will be Moore. My money is on Miller, his confidence is through the roof, and I don’t think its going down anytime soon.