Centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have dropped completely out of the Pelicans rotation as the team has found success with small-ball lineups, Justin Verrier of ESPN.com reports. Asik and Ajinca have been glued to the bench the last three games while the club has reeled off four consecutive victories. Forwards Dante Cunningham and Solomon Hill are the biggest beneficiaries of coach Alvin Gentry’s altered rotation, and their increased minutes have allowed the Pelicans to switch defensively much more easily, Verrier continues. New Orleans has the league’s 12th best offensive rating and fourth-best defensive rating since the shakeup earlier this week, Verrier adds. Franchise player Anthony Davis is thrilled with the new look, as he told Verrier. “When we play small it gives us an advantage on both ends of the floor.” he said.
In other developments regarding the Pelicans:
- Gentry is enjoying the pleasant dilemma of having too many options at the guard spots, Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com writes. Gentry prefers not to have more than four backcourt players in the rotation, Eichenhofer notes. Jrue Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield are the current starters, leaving Gentry to choose from the quartet of Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Tyreke Evans and Tim Frazier for the remaining minutes. “It’s good to have the depth and have an opportunity that if things aren’t going real well, to stick another guy in and see if he has it for that night,” Gentry told Eichenhofer.
- Evans, who can also play small forward, will see an uptick in minutes soon, according to John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune. Evans had been on a 15-minute per game restriction since returning from knee surgery and is still not cleared to play both games of back-to-backs, Reid continues. Gentry told Reid and other media members that his minutes would increase to 18 or 20 per game on a regular basis. Evans played 18 minutes against the Knicks on Friday. “I don’t think he’s going to go from 15 to 30,” Gentry said. “I think there’s a possibility that he could play 18 minutes or 20 minutes, that’s the natural progression that’s going to happen.”