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Pelicans getting defensive in training camp

Stan Van Gundy is now in charge of the Pelicans. (Source: New Orleans Pelicans)
Stan Van Gundy is now in charge of the Pelicans. (Source: New Orleans Pelicans)(New Orleans Pelicans)
Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 2:42 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With the hire of Stan Van Gundy comes the expectation of much-improved defense. And to put it simply, Van Gundy says the best way to start get better in that area is to protect the rim.

“A lot of your free throw attempts that you give up happen with people driving the ball. The more you can limit the ball getting into the paint, particularly deep into the paint, you’re taking away a lot of what the two most efficient shots in the game are,” said Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy.

He points to Milwaukee as the team that’s been the best example of that philosophy. As the league’s top defense over the last few years, they’ve given up the fewest points in the paint. Coincidentally enough, the Pelicans now have former Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe to help implement that style of defense here as well.

“We just tried to make our opponents take the less percentage shot, the midrange. You try to force the midrange shots. Obviously, you can’t stop everything. We just tried to give up the midrange, protect the rim, and not give up so many lay-ups,” said Pels guard Eric Bledsoe.

Still, where the Pelicans defensive woes began last year was often on the other side of the court. Being careless with the ball often led to a failure to get back and defend.

“There’s not a team in the league that’s not better defensively with their defense set than they are scrambling in transition. So cutting down on the turnovers is huge, particularly on the live ball turnovers,” Van Gundy.

Even just a few practices in to training camp, Van Gundy says the coaching staff’s been hard on the Pelicans when they’ve been sloppy with the ball. They’ll have to build better habits quickly because the season is fast-approaching.

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