What: Phoenix Suns (1-4) at New Orleans Pelicans (0-5)
When: 5PM AZ Time
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA.
Watch: Fox Sports AZ and NBA League Pass
Listen: AZ Sports 98.7FM and KSUN 1400AM (Spanish)
In a game lots of fans missed while watching an epic game 7 of the World Series, the Suns finally broke through for their first win of the season, beating the Blazers 118-115 on an Eric Bledsoe game-winner. Their opponent tonight, the Pelicans, have yet to taste victory, dropping their first five contests with an average score of 98.2-106.6.
23 year old, fifth year pro Anthony Davis is a legitimate superstar, averaging 31.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.8 steals per game. His problem is a severe lack of a supporting cast. Only two other Pelicans average double figure scoring, led by Tim Frazier's 13.0 PPG.
"Who is Tim Frazier?", you might be asking. He's a 26 year old, journeyman PG whose 5 starts this season match his career total starts before this season. These are the New Orleans Pelicans. Other luminaries on their roster include E'Twaun Moore, Lance Stephenson, Omer Asik and rookie Buddy Hield. Tyreke Evans is out due to injury and Jrue Holiday has yet to play as he tends to personal matters.
Except for Davis, this is a terrible roster. Alvin Gentry was hired as head coach to spruce up their offense, but they currently rank 29th in the league in O-Rating as they simply don't have the horses. The Pelicans play fast, as you'd expect from a Gentry team, at 4th in pace, but fast is useless when you're as inefficient as they are.
The Suns, meanwhile, were able to squeak out an overtime victory over the Blazers Wednesday after two blowout losses (Kings and Clippers) and two respectable, close calls vs. the Thunder and Warriors. For a team with several youngsters in the rotation and starting the season vs. four playoff teams from last season, the Suns are off to a decent and predictable start.
Currently 3rd in pace, 27th in O-Rating and 16th in D-Rating, the Suns profile similarly to the Pelicans. A way to quickly improve that anemic offensive efficiency will be to lift their 3 point % from its woeful 27.6%, 28th in the league.
One player whose efficiency has been fine over the first five games is T.J. Warren, leading the team in scoring at 22.4 PPG with an eFG of 52.2%. Warren is blossoming into a big-time scorer in his third NBA season, and snagging a decent 6.2 rebounds/36 while playing acceptable defense to boot. He figures to hold his starting SF spot despite P.J. Tucker's return from injury, and Warren has an excellent chance to lead the Suns in scoring while cracking the 20PPG average for the season.
PG: Eric Bledsoe vs. Tim Frazier
SG: Devin Booker vs. E'Twaun Moore
SF: T.J. Warren vs. Solomon Hill
PF: Jared Dudley vs. Dante Cunningham
C: Tyson Chandler vs. Anthony Davis
The Pelicans are hungry for their first win, and are due for one at home against a similarly weak opponent. They'll also boast the best player on the court in Davis. Still, I think the Suns superior balance and depth, plus some improved shooting, will win out.
All statistics courtesy BasketballReference.com.
Bright Side Night
While you're here, why not take five minutes to donate a few bucks to Bright Side's very own cause - sending kids to the Dec 11 Suns game vs. these very Pelicans in Phoenix!
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