Scouting Report: New Orleans Pelicans
The Hawks complete their first of five back-to-backs in the month of February on Wednesday when they visit New Orleans for the first of two games this season with the Pelicans.
New Orleans has suffered thanks in large part to injuries to two of the team’s most prolific offensive players. Both Ryan Anderson (19.8 PPG) and Jrue Holiday (14.3 PPG) are out, and the Pelicans have all but slid out of playoff contention as a result.
One guy who has been healthy and is developing into one of the most dominant big men in the league is Anthony Davis. Widely regarded as an All-Star snub, the second year power forward from Kentucky is averaging a team-high 20.4 points and 10.5 rebounds, along with a league-best 3.4 blocks. Few big men can dominate the floor on both ends, but Davis does just that. With 7’2″ Alexis Ajinca starting a center, it likely means Paul Millsap will be tasked with trying to slow down Davis. Davis has the athletic edge and a height advantage, so Millsap will have to use his strength to keep him away from the basket. Davis isn’t a threat from the perimeter, but he can hit a mid-range jumper. He’s becoming a more diverse player every day, so Millsap will need help from his teammates. Without Anderson or Holiday on the perimeter, I’d expect him to be double-teamed if he catches the ball low enough in the post.
Eric Gordon is the other scorer to keep an eye on. He’s been a constant for New Orleans, starting all 44 games he’s played in. He’s been shooting the ball well, particularly from three (39.3%), so he’s not a guy you can leave open. Kyle Korver knows a thing or two about what happens when you leave a good shooter open, so that should be a fun matchup to watch.
The Pelicans rank in the top 10 in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage, so they’re getting their points in a number of ways. Led by Davis, they also lead the league in blocks, so the Hawks will need to space the floor and knock down some open shots to put points on the board.
Tonight is also a unique night for Hawks fans as they’ll be able to live tweet the game from the @ATLHawks account through their own tweets. Tonight’s #HawksFanTakeover goes from the opening tip until the final buzzer. Click here for details.
Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images