The New Orleans Pelicans enter the third week of the NBA season looking to establish a consistent rhythm for a full 48-minute game. They dropped the last two games after winning the previous two. An injury to C.J. McCollum will set this team back, however, it does allow for rookie Jordan Hawkins to get more time on the floor.
New Orleans Pelicans Week 2 Analysis
The Pelicans had a 29-point night from McCollum to help wipe away a 22-point deficit last Wednesday night in OKC. Zion Williamson had a stuffed stat sheet of 20 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. On the following night, Williamson sat out due to rest. The Pelicans again relied on McCollum as he went for 33. Third-year forward Matt Ryan scored a career-high 20 points to help the Pelicans beat Detroit at home.
The Atlanta Hawks then came into town over the weekend and appeared to be too much for the Pelicans despite having their All-Stars back for that game. Trae Young was a maestro for the Hawks’ offense, setting up shooters as they outscored the Pelicans 70-45 in the 2nd half. Monday’s game saw the Pelicans create a 20-point lead against the defending champion Denver Nuggets. However, reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic took control in the third quarter.
Shooting Deficiencies Must be Corrected
In the four games last week, New Orleans shot better 31% from deep once. The Pelicans are 22nd in total three-point percentage at 33.9%. The problem has been shooting in the home arena. The Pelicans 30.9 three-point percentage at the Smoothie King Center is fifth worst in the league. On the road, New Orleans is in the top ten in the league at 38.5%.
Hawkins and Ryan are the knockdown shooters on this team. Hawkins, Ryan and McCollum are the only players that attempt more the 4 three-pointers a game. Each of these is shooting better than 35% from range. When these two are feeling it, it allows the long ball to open up for other players. Brandon Ingram has started slow, but he is a career 36.4% shooter from deep. Expect him to get out of this current slump.
Next Man Up
C.J. McCollum suffered a collapsed lung, an MRI revealed on Sunday, and will likely miss multiple games. McCollum is one point behind Williamson for the scoring lead on the team (21.7 PPG). Jordan Hawkins responded well in McCollum’s absence setting a career-high 31 points on 7 made three-pointers. Dyson Daniels also contributed with 9 points on 4-5 shooting in 21 minutes.
The best ability is availability for players like Williamson and Ingram, as they sat out more than half the season last year. To Williamson’s credit, he has been ready to play so far in the young season. We’ve seen glimpses of how dangerous this team can be at full throttle. Jose Alvarado, who hasn’t played yet this season, will need at least another two weeks to reevaluate his ankle injury.
The next few weeks are vital to establishing solid rotation minutes for players like Herb Jones and Larry Nance Jr. These are players who play their roles in the system well and understand where they need to be. Both of them are better shooters than they have displayed this season.
The Last Word on the New Orleans Pelicans This Week
A tough week ahead that includes the first in-season tournament game for the Pelicans when they go to Houston on Friday. Minnesota and Dallas are the other opponents on tap this week. Injuries have been the early headlines for New Orleans, but the play of Zion Williamson along with the hot hand of Jordan Hawkins could be something to watch out for.