It’s easy to see why everyone says the New Orleans Pelicans are only going to go as far as Davis and Boogie can carry them. And while it’s true that Davis and Boogie are playing well, the Pelicans will need to the guards to step up if this team wants to make the playoffs.
And step up they have. In the wins against Sacramento and Cleveland, Jrue and Moore contributed 32 points and 8 assists, and 56 and 9, respectively. And even in the sloppy loss last night against the Magic, Moore and Jrue looked lively. So what’s been the key to this offensive support?
Point Boogie has been incredible to watch and it’s great to see when he puts up monster games like he did against Sacramento and Cleveland. Davis is finally starting to expand his range into three-point territory. But for both of the Pelicans stars to be effective at the perimeter, they need spacing and players to fill the lane. In the first games when the Pelicans asked Davis and Cousins to play more on the interior, the Pelicans slogged through offensive sets where the guard struggled to get the ball inside, and there was a lack of movement on the outside (outside Ian Clark – see Jake’s article from last week)
Ever since Nelson came onboard, the Pelicans offensive sets have been much more unpredictable. With a true ball handler at his side, Jrue has been able to play more off the ball, where he can use his high basketball IQ to make effective cuts into the lane. Moore has also been keen to get more into the lane, both with the ball or cuts from the wing or the baseline. Both Jrue and Moore have scored more than half their points in the paint, which is crucial to the Pelicans spacing.
And they’re not just shooting when they get into the paint. Both Jrue and Moore have been crucial passers, helping re-circulate the ball to keep the offense going or finding Davis/Boogie on the perimeter to let the stars go to work. Just look at the 8-pass masterclass of the Pelicans offense against the Cavs on Sunday.
The offense went stagnant last night against the Magic when Moore sat and Nelson and Diallo came on. The Pelicans have big ambitions and two stars that will try to carry them. If the Pelicans can continue to get solid production from Jrue and Moore, we might just get to see Jrue do this dance in the playoffs.