UA-59049186-1 NBA Team Preview: New Orleans Pelicans - Good if it Goes

NBA Team Preview: New Orleans Pelicans

Offseason:

Draft Picks: 6. SG. Buddy Hield, 35. PF. Cheick Diallo

Key Acquisitions: SG. E’Twaun Moore, SG. Lance Stephenson, PF. Terrence Jones, PG. Langston Galloway

Key Losses: PF. Ryan Anderson, SG. Eric Gordon

 

Player Profiles

Projected Lineup

PG. Jrue Holiday: 6’4, 205

  • Big PG who is never healthy but when is can be a very good 2 way player.
  • All-around offensive game. Can shoot it, score, and create for others.
  • Uses his superior size to his advantage defensively. Once was on his way to being an elite defender but all the injuries have slowed him down in terms of quickness which has taken him down a level on defense.

SG. E’Twaun Moore: 6’4, 191

  • Tough 3 and D off guard
  • Had a very good year shooting from 3 and inside the arc. Doesn’t do a lot with the ball in his hands but he should help space the floor very well and can make things happen when the defense closes out.
  •  Not the biggest guy but holds his own against SGs and defend PGs too. Has developed into quite a pesky defender.

SF. Tyreke Evans: 6’6, 220

  • 3 position perimeter player who given his talent has been somewhat of an underachiever.
  •  He can score or initiate the offense and make plays for others. He’s an inconsistent shooter and average athlete.
  • Average defender at best on most nights but has the tools to play better and at times does.

PF. Anthony Davis: 6’10, 253

  • Superstar, transcendent talent who can do some of everything and more.
  • Offensively he can score down low but right now he’s at his best facing the basket where he can utilize his superb quickness and guard like ball skills to leave the majority of his big men counterparts puzzled defensively. And with range that has extended to the 3 point line defenders can’t afford to play too far off.
  • As good as he can be offensively he has the potential to be 1 of the best defensive players of all-time with a unique combination of high basketball intellect, elite physical traits, and high effort. Blocks shots, gets steals, can defend PnR or switch and he can hold his own defending on the interior. He needs to continue to get stronger to be even better defending on the block but he’s well on his way to being DPOY one day.

C. Omer Asik: 7’0, 255

  • Big, physical center that’s a force on the boards.
  • Incredibly limited player offensively who should only have the ball around the rim in finishing situations.
  • Tough interior defender but doesn’t block shots and lack of athleticsm hurts him in today’s game.

Bench

SG. Buddy Hield: 6’4, 214

  • Rookie SG who comes into the league with a big time reputation as a shooter
  • Elite shooting prospect who’s role in the NBA, at least to start his career, figures to be more off the ball. He has a very quick trigger and doesn’t need a lot of space to take or make shots. Could struggle to create for himself at the NBA level.
  • Not an impact defender but better than a lot of people think defensively.

PG. Langston Galloway: 6’2, 200

  • Offensive minded combo guard who can put up points when he gets hot.
  • Can score with the ball in his hands utilizing ball screens and can shoot it spotting up or coming off screens.
  • Very underrated defender who showed major improvement on that end from the previous year. Can defend both guard spots despite his size and works hard to contest shots.

C. Alexis Aijinca: 7’2, 248

  • Humongous C with a major foul problem.
  • Can contribute as a offensive player with quality mid-range shooting, finishing around the basket and he hits FTs at a high level.
  • Offers some rim protection but he doesn’t move well at all which causes him to foul at a very high rate.

PF. Terrence Jones: 6’9, 255

  • Tweener combo forward who’s level of efficiency on offense and effectiveness on defense both took a significant dip last season.
  • At his best offensively inside but his lack of height causes problems for him. He’s thickly built and very strong, which is why he likes to try and bang down low but his lack of shooting ability and athleticism from mid-range severely limits his game at that size.
  • Tough defender who’s best asset is his strength on defense but overall wasn’t as effective last year on that end as in past seasons.

SF. Dante Cunningham: 6’8, 230

  • Hard working veteran combo forward
  • Contributes almost exclusively as a slasher off the ball.
  • Comes to play on the defensive end every night despite his short comings and is an over achiever on that end.

 

SG. Lance Stephenson: 6’5 230

  • Talented, but highly-inconsistent player with immaturity issues.
  • Up and down 3 point shooter who has been more up than down of late. Has very good handles for an off guard and can make things happen for himself and others.
  • Highly capable defender who just isn’t locked in and focused enough on that end.

SF. Alonzo Gee: 6’6, 225

  • Veteran wing who made his living in the paint last year.
  • Shot nearly 70% at the rim and got their via cuts and shoot and drive. Struggled tremendously as a shooter both from 3 and mid-range.
  • Not a good athlete nor does he posses adequate lateral quickness to be effective defensively.

C. Robert Sacre: 7’0, 270

  • Mediocre back up center
  • Not effective offensively. Only shot 41% last season and isn’t a threat to create any offense on his own.
  • Doesn’t play up to his size defensively. Not much of a rim protector and doesn’t move his feet well.

 

 

 

Breakdown

I’m rooting for the Pelicans this season because I’m a fan of Anthony Davis, but New Orleans is going to find it very tough to make the postseason this year with the roster currently constructed. Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis BOTH need to stay healthy this year, a feat that may be completely impossible. Even if they both play 80 games, it’s still going to be tough for New Orleans to get in, so they definitely won’t have much of a shot if they both miss 20+ games. The Pelicans lost 2 of their key contributors in Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and though they could see some drop off on the offensive end, they should be a lot better defensively with guys like Moore and Jones in the fold. I believe 1 of the key guys for the Pelicans in 2017 will be rookie Buddy Hield. I expect the Pelicans to ease him into the fold and bring him off the bench to start the year, but if he plays well I certainly think he can take over the starting 2 guard spot.

The Pelicans’ best 3 players are Davis, Holiday, and Evans and on top of healthy their going to need all 3 to play better. This team needs Davis to play at an all-time MVP-caliber level, which he certainly has the talent to do. We know what he can do handling the ball and playing on the perimeter facing the basket. But I would like to see Davis closer to the basket taking more high percentage shots. Defensively it’s time for Davis to put it all together and be in that defensive player of the year conversation. This team needs Evans to continue to be respectable from 3 point range. He’ll never be a 40% guy but if he can make the open 1s and be a 35% guy it’ll help really open things up for this team offensively. It’s been so long since Holiday played a full season it’s hard to know what he’s capable of he were fully healthy playing 30+ minutes a night. But if it’s anything resembling the guy he was his last season in Philly the Pelicans could be a dangerous team.

Another thing to keep an eye on with this team will be the play of the big men not named Anthony Davis. This team needs solid contributions from Osik, Aijinca, and Jones. If Jones can return to the caliber of player he was 2 years ago when he was shooting over 50% from the field and blocking nearly 2.5 shots per 36 minutes him and Davis would make a very intriguing pair down the stretch or against small ball lineups when the Pelicans would most likely prefer not to play with their bigger centers on the floor. When Osik and Aijinca are on the floor they don’t need them to be all-stars just play their role. Tough interior defense, finishing at the rim, and rebounding.

Expectations

Overall, I expect the Pelicans to compete for a playoff spot but there just isn’t anything in recent history to suggest to me that this team is going to stay healthy, especially Holiday. Until the Pelicans can prove they can stay healthy, I just can’t put my faith in this team. But there is reason for Pelicans fans to be excited. Offensively we know things are going to center around Anthony Davis but the addition of Moore and Hield should actually upgrade the team’s 3-point shooting at the off guard spot and help better space the floor. I think defenses will want to dare Evans to shoot the 3 and prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. If he can hit those shots, not only will that help the rest of the team, but it will really make things easier for him to get his points. The Pelicans have an interesting 2nd unit with newcomers Langston Galloway and Jones pairing with rookie Hield and Dante Cunningham and Aijenca who were both there last season. It’s a unit without a true play maker which may force this team to play Evans or Holiday some with the 2nd unit to help fill that void. Bottom line is the Pelicans have a superstar. they have quality role players and good enough supporting starters in Evans and Holiday to make the playoffs this season. But once again – will they stay healthy?

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