The buzzer people heard at the end of the All-Star game was not the end of the game but the end of DeMarcus Cousins’ time as a Sacramento King. It appeared he was notified right after the game while addressing reports that he was going to be teaming up with All-Star MVP Anthony Davis in New Orleans. They will be forming one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, well on paper at least. The Pelicans are far from complete and the biggest question will be how can Coach Alvin Gentry make the pairing work?
A look into his past coaching history gives a few hints as to some of the sets/actions that Pelican fans might see. Coach Gentry’s was an assistant for Mike D’Antoni during the Seven Seconds or Less era and eventually replaced D’Antoni to become the head coach. At his peak with the Suns in the 2009-10 season the Suns averaged 110.2 points a night for the top spot in the NBA.
The Suns were a run and gun team, and were known for a particular set that they ran, Fist Up Short. It starts with the point guard and either big in a high pick-and-roll, the other big shifting from the strong side block to the other block as the ballscreen is happening. The wing players are in the corner and the weakside wing relocates from the corner to the above the break three to take the weakside help away. The play puts the low big man defender in a bind, do you take the roller and leave your man or let the roller go?
The clips below courtesy of Coach Pyper from Half Court Hoops are from the Gentry era in Phoenix. The first example Steve Nash found Gortat on the roll, then Nash hit the short man who whipped it to Gortat underneath the rim, in the final example the weakside defense got sucked in which opened a lane for a three point shot from the short man.
Immediately after the trade NBA Twitter was clamoring for Gentry to run an all-big man pick-and-roll, often referred to as a 4-5 pick-and-roll. This is also an area where Gentry has some experience. While an assistant for the Clippers under Doc Rivers, they ran a few plays where Blake Griffin would often come off a pick-and-roll with DeAndre Jordan setting the pick. The Clippers have also mastered using Jordan as the short man in pick-and-rolls, Griffin constantly finds Jordan for a lob after setting a ballscreen for Chris Paul. Pelican fans should expect to see this more between Jrue Holiday, Cousins, and Davis.
Another possible set that doesn’t get a lot of run in games but could be a real interesting set for this combination. It shares the same principles of the Fist Up Short set. It is a side pick-and-roll with either Cousins or Davis setting the ballscreen and the other big on the strong side block. As Holiday comes off the screen, the big rolls to the rim while the low big pops out to the corner-wing area. It is depicted in the diagram below.
There are several options for Coach Gentry offensively can run with the duo of Cousins and Davis. The team is still not complete, as they will need to add more shooters. The Pelicans currently are 17th in three-point percentage, so they will need to add more shooting on the floor. It may not click right away but this is a step in the right direction. The Pelicans are definitely attempting to zig while the league is zagging by playing two bigs at the same time. It may or may not work but this will be an opportunity for Coach Gentry to show some creativity on the offensive end.
- Timing of the Trade – The Sacramento Kings are getting killed for not waiting until the deadline. It might be possible that they made the move as soon as they got the green light from their owner Vivek Ranadive who was long the obstacle for any Cousins trade. There had to be a fear that they need to make the move before he changes his mind.
- It’s the Magic Show – The Los Angeles Lakers have officially put Magic Johnson in charge of the Lakers while relieving Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss, and John Black (Longtime Spokesman). Lots of rumors about who will be the General Manager, looks like it is going to be Rob Pelinka (courtesy of Ramona Shelburne) once he divests from his agency. How this works will really depends on who Magic surrounds himself with and if he’s able to listen to them.
- Paul locked up – What will get lost in the Laker news, their neighbor the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Paul have a verbal agreement on a new contract for around $200 million dollars. I would guess they are committing up to five more years of him running the show. Might not look that pretty at the end of the deal. (via Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels)
- Fake Trades – With the deadline approaching be aware of trade news on twitter, there are a number of fake twitter accounts that will try to fire off trade news that is false or without any sources. Just a friendly heads up!
- Fist Up Short clips from (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHU-Xc8s4xQ) by Coach Pyper (@HalfCourtHoops) A great follow.
- Stats from basketball-reference.com
- Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports