Pelicans shootaround by HUB International: New Orleans relying on new additions, All-Star bigs for long-range shooting

by Jim Eichenhofer

With a pair of 6-foot-11 All-Star bigs in the lineup, New Orleans is going against the grain of the current NBA, but that doesn’t mean the Pelicans are straying too far from the league’s dramatically increased emphasis on perimeter shooting. During Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, for example, 10 different players connected on at least one three-pointer, led by five treys by one of those All-Stars, DeMarcus Cousins. Offseason free-agent signees Ian Clark and Darius Miller were added in part to make New Orleans a more dangerous team from three-point range.

“We have a lot of guys who can make threes,” said Anthony Davis, following Tuesday’s shootaround in advance of the 7 p.m. preseason opener vs. Chicago. “That’s what we wanted to do this offseason, bring in a lot of shooters. I think we did a good job of that. We’re able to space the floor very well with me and DeMarcus (Cousins) in the post, then kick it out to shooters we know are going to make shots.”

New Orleans finished 19th in three-point percentage last season, but Cousins (36.1 percent in 2016-17) appears to steadily becoming a bigger threat from beyond the arc. Davis, who shot 29.9 percent last season, also has looked more accurate on shots from distance.

“It means a lot,” Davis said of he and Cousins being outside threats. “Because now the defense has to respect us out to three. It gives us the opportunity to do a lot more with our offense.”

Other notes from shootaround at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center:

Davis on Jrue Holiday’s adjustment to starting shooting guard: “He actually likes playing the two (position). It gives him an opportunity to make plays and be a scorer. It lets (Rajon) Rondo take the load off (in terms of) trying to get everybody involved. I’m excited to see how he is this year. He had a great training camp, played well in the scrimmage.” …

Rondo on the Pelicans’ anticipated style of play offensively: “(The coaches) have been preaching a lot about shooting threes, especially with our bigs (on the floor). Keeping the floor spaced, getting in the right spots and playing together, sharing the basketball.”