New Orleans Pelicans: Can they be best passing team in the NBA?

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images /

The New Orleans Pelicans are ranked second in the league in assists. They have the potential to be best in the NBA moving forward.

Sitting with a 17-16 record in the Western Conference wasn’t the ideal spot for the New Orleans Pelicans to position themselves during the holidays. However, they do have quite a bit to be thankful for so far this season.

As of right now, they have a huge opportunity to make a run up the standings, currently sitting at the eighth spot in the conference. Also, it isn’t too shabby to have two of the top 10 players in the league at your disposal.

As of this moment, the New Orleans Pelicans just completed back-to-back road wins over the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. These were games that were considered must-wins since both teams had key injuries to their starting rotations. Also, the Pelicans needed these victories to bounce back from a losing stretch the past week.

The one thing that this team did learn at the end of winning those games is that they need to rely on their strengths. This team has all the talent in the world, but being consistent in this league is critical to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.


One category that the New Orleans Pelicans have thrived in this season is passing the ball. This team is currently ranked second in the league in assists. It’s shocking to see given that this team historically in the Anthony Davis era wasn’t known to be a passing team. But a lot of the credit needs to be given the Alvin Gentry and the coaching staff on how they have allowed the players to set the tone to start games.

In the first quarter, the New Orleans Pelicans are usually scorching hot from the field and 3-point range. A lot of that has to do on how well the players position themselves to get easy shots. Normally in their half-court offensive sets, either Jrue Holiday or Rajon Rondo bring the ball up and immediately call for screens from both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

That clearly forces the defense to start guarding the perimeter, which leaves the paint vulnerable for an easy cut to the basket. Normally guys like Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore have done a fantastic job in cutting to the basket. Having guys like Cousins and Rondo to feed the ball to them immediately after their pick-and-roll action confuses a lot of opposing defenses.


This is the one area the New Orleans Pelicans have been excelling in all season long, especially in 48 minutes of a basketball game. There is no virtual drop-off in the assist column from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.

There are times in critical moments of the game where some players resort to hero ball or poor isolation plays to get a bucket. But in most cases, the Pelicans are truly buying in on the passing effort in their offensive schemes.

This team is averaging 26.4 assists per game, about four behind the Golden State Warriors (30.1 per game). The New Orleans Pelicans could see their number uptick if they continue to share the ball for 48 minutes and win games consecutively. They were in a downward spiral before nabbing their last two wins in their Florida road trip.

Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft: End of 2017 edition

Those two games showcased how other players not named Cousins or Davis can make an impact for the team. Let’s just hope that this team can keep the train rolling to close out the end of the year.