New Orleans Pelicans vs Los Angeles Clippers: 3 Takeaways
After a win on the road in Charlotte, the New Orleans Pelicans hosted the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday Night. The Pelicans welcomed back an injured E'Twaun Moore but were without Nikola Mirotic who was ruled out with illness.
The Clippers came away with the win 129 - 126 after the Pelicans led 119-115 late in the 4th quarter. Here are three takeaways from the matchup between the now 2nd ranked Clippers and 11th ranked Pelicans.
#3 – The Pelicans need a Point Guard
Jrue Holiday has had an outstanding start to the season, following on from his stellar end to last season, and he works well within the Pelicans line up with Anthony Davis and Mirotic, but Holiday's best plays come when he does not need to take the lead and run the point.
Holiday's best work comes when he is off the ball - the way he moves through the opponent's defence and can see the court makes him a formidable passer, and the way he can see gaps and cut through for an easy layup or an assist is amazing. The Pelicans have been without starting point guard Elfrid Payton since the Knicks game where he fractured his finger, and that was after missing 8 games from spraining his ankle.
The Pelicans can make it work for now by giving minutes to Ian Clarke & Darius Miller, but to properly utilise Holliday in the rotation they need another point guard. Is it time for the Pelicans to perhaps look into a possible trade for another point guard? Perhaps, especially if they want to ensure that Davis will stay with them when he is eligible for free agency soon.
#2 – The Clippers are better than everybody expected
The Clippers have no recognisable star, and at the beginning of the season, it was thought that they would not get close to becoming a playoff team until they were able to trade for one later in the season.
But the group that they have put together shows that the idea of having lots of good and solid players may be better than having one or two stars and filling the gaps around them. Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverly & Avery Bradley have all been solid, while rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has turned it up in the last few games.
The Clippers currently sit 2nd in the Western Conference, with a record of 16-17 and don't look like slowing down. The Clippers need to figure out if they really do need a star, as they are the team earmarked to be leading the race for Kawhi Leonard's free agency next season, or if they are happy working with their current roster and continuing to develop their younger players.
#1 – Julius Randle was a steal
During the free agency period between the 2017-2018 & 2018-2019 seasons, the Pelicans said goodbye to DeMarcus Cousins and were on the lookout for another big they could pair with Davis & Mirotic. They found him in Julius Randle, signing him for 2 years at $18 million from the Lakers.
Randle has had an explosive start to the season, averaging 18.3 pts & 9.0 rebounds per game (according to basketballreference.com), and ended the game with a box score of 37 pts, 7 reb & 4 assists, including 3/4 3pts made. When the Lakers had the chance to resign Randle, and instead opted to resign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for 1 year at $12 million, they may have thought this was the better option.
But Randle has continued to develop, and at only 24 years old will continue to develop. The Pelicans have a good set of big men being able to rotate Davis & Mirotic with Randle off the bench meaning they can usually always have at least two of these guys on the court at all times.