New Orleans Pelicans: Rebounding must be addressed

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 08: DeMarcus Cousins
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 08: DeMarcus Cousins /

Like many teams in the NBA, the New Orleans Pelicans have some things they need to work on to get better as a team. One of the more fundamental issues they need to address is rebounding.

The New Orleans Pelicans have been playing underneath the radar for most of the season. The usual suspects of teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have had the basketball media fixated on their rollercoaster rides.

But not for the Pelicans, who’ve been hovering around the .500 record mark through the first 30 games of the season. There have been a lot of factors that have helped and hurt this team in its quest for a playoff spot. Some could be addressed and corrected based on coaching and game time adjustments.

So far this season, the New Orleans Pelicans have made wonderful strides on the offensive side of the ball. They are currently ranked seven in offensive rating, fifth in points per game and second in assists per game.

A lot of that could be credited to guys like DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. You also can’t forget about the role players like E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller, who have made significant contributions with their outside shooting. Alvin Gentry has done a decent job in utilizing the players he has in his disposal, but there is one area that he’ll need his team to improve on as the season progress.


Rebounding is one facet of the game that the New Orleans Pelicans will need to collectively zone in on. At the moment, this team is ranked 17th in the league in that department. Averaging 43 rebounds a game is borderline acceptable for most teams in the NBA. Nearly half of those rebounds can be credited to both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Both players are ranked in the top 10 in rebounding in the NBA.

The reason why rebounding is an issue that needs to be addressed is because this team doesn’t seem to make it a priority at times. Having your two All-Stars nab half of your team’s rebounds is great and all, but if the entire team doesn’t do it consistently, it hurts your chances to win games consistently.

The one aspect that the New Orleans Pelicans will need work on is their offensive rebounding. They are currently ranked 25th in the NBA. A lot of that can be attributed to on how the Pelicans space the floor with all five players operating on the perimeter.

Addressing the weakness

Both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have been utilized on the offensive side of the ball as stretch-bigs. Certain plays allow them to set constant screens for either Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo, while they drift off to the 3-point line and attempt the shot. Most of those plays haven’t really translated well based on how both Davis and Cousins have shot the 3-ball this year (34.9 percent and 36.1 percent, respectively).

So when these plays are constantly being executed (which is often), there isn’t a concerted effort to try nabbing the offensive rebound. Look at the fourth quarter and how the team underperforms in those 12 minutes, with a -2.2 point differential that ranks 28th in the league.

If your two big men are always around the 3-point line, who will be in the paint to fight for the 50-50 balls, especially in crunch-time to win games?

Pulling down more offensive rebounds limits fast break opportunities for opponents and provides extra possessions. The New Orleans Pelicans have lost a lot of games this year based on their poor execution down the stretch, especially with ill-advised jumpers with nobody trying to grab the offensive rebound or tip the ball in the net.

Next: 2017-18 Week 10 NBA Power Rankings

Cleaning up that specific issue moving forward would be a welcome change for the rest of the season.