Ladies and gentlemen, your New Orleans Pelicans.
2016 record: 34-48
- Frank Jackson via draft
- Rajon Rondo via free agency
- Ian Clark via free agency
- Tony Allen via free agency
- Martell Webster via free agency
- Donatas Motiejunas via free agency
I was kind of joking with the intro, but I kind of wasn’t. Anthony Davis is a vital component of this team, but you know what? He played the most games in a season last year (75) and the Pelicans still ended up with a losing record. But…but…but….they acquired DeMarcus Cousins last season! Did I stutter mother [email protected]#er? Before DC, the Pelicans were 23-34. After DC, 11-14 to end the season at 34-48. While they scored more points with DC (106.6 vs 103.4), the defense got worse. The points allowed remained the same, but opponents shot better from the field (.457 vs .447) and better from three-land (.362 vs .349). Bringing in Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark at point guard should help matters and Vegas has the over/under at 40.5. That’s a good number, but I think it’s closer to the ceiling. This team is so top heavy with very little depth. I see so much risk to the downside. DC is a free agent after this year. If the Pelicans get out of the gates slowly, I’d imagine that they would try to shop him. In addition, please scroll up and re-read the intro.
PG – Rondo may be the key to the whole operation. He is boys with DC and has always been able to get others involved. While he’s still not a great shooter from outside, he has improved over his career (20% from three-land his rookie year to 37% last season). Keep in mind he doesn’t shoot a high volume of them. Always a triple-dub threat, Rondo still chips in some steals, but his percentage from the charity stripe remains awful (60%). It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. He’s not going to help the already bad defense, but as he showed in the playoffs, he can be a vital cog for a run. For fantasy, I think he’s being overrated a bit. Ian Clark is the backup and is more a scoring point than a distributor. With Jrue Holiday also able to play the point, it’s tough to envision Clark getting substantial minutes. Frank Clark, the Pelicans second-round pick, had surgery on his right foot and will be out a significant portion of the season.
SG – Jrue Holiday moves over to shooting guard, after playing the point last year. He should see some minutes at the point, though. He shot 35% from three-land last season and has consistently provided around 1.5 steals per game for his career. The 7.3 assists he tallied last year is going to come down. I put him down for 6.5 assists, but I think that number could be lower. E’Twaun Moore, Tony Allen, and Jordan Crawford could all see minutes because of the small forward shituation. Moore won’t contribute much in any category, but he does shoot 37% from three-land. Allen can’t shoot, but will grab boards and get his pilfer on. Crawford is probably the best scorer out of the bunch, but his three-point stroke is questionable. He will dish out some dimes but nothing else.
SF – Darius Miller could start with Soloman Hill out with a torn hamstring, but coach Alvin Gentry said that Dante Cunningham could start as well. Miller played college ball at UK and was a member of the 2011 championship squad. He was selected in the second-round of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Pelicans. Unable to carve out a role, Miller took his talents to Germany where he averaged around 11 points and shot 40% from three-land. He only contributed 2.6 boards, two assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks. He has size at 6′ 8″ 225 pounds. Miller should receive plenty of open looks and could be a valuable floor spacer for the Pelicans. Cunningham, well….sucks, but he may well be a better option than Miller. It’s just that we don’t know that Miller sucks yet. Or maybe we do. Cunningham will grab some boards and shot 39% from three-land last season, but he didn’t start shooting the three until two years ago. As mentioned above, Moore, Allen, and Crawford could also play some small forward.
PF – AD is the starter. There really isn’t much to say. AD is one of the best players in the game and contributes across the board. All about health. In his five-year career, he’s started 60, 66, 68, 61, and 75 games. Cunningham could also play some power forward, but that would mean that AD is hurt. Cheick Diallo is 20 years old, 6′ 9″ and 220 pounds. He’s more of a traditional power forward: rebound and defense. Per 36, he averaged 15.7 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. He may not make the rotation, but the depth chart is open and “Is AD hurt?”
C – DeMarcus Cousins is really good. One of five players to be in the 1/1/1 club: one three-pointer made, one steal, and one block per game. Like AD, he does it all. The only concern is what happens if the Pelicans aren’t winning? Someone should make a twitter account: Is Cousins Melting Down? He’s also a free agent after this season, so there’s a chance he gets traded. Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik are below DC on the depth chart. Is there a line in the CBA that requires teams to have at least two people on the depth chart? Because these guys really have no business being here. Asik may not even play this season due to Chrohn disease-like symptoms. AD and DC are the centers and power forwards for this team. I wish I was tall because I’d be perfect for the backup role.