- NBA Rank: 15
Conference Rank: 11
- New Orleans Pelicans
The fate of the Pelicans is deeply coupled with the health and performance of Anthony Davis. The "best power forward in the NBA" discussion begins and ends with Kevin Love and Anthony Davis, but Davis is a couple of years younger, which is pretty good news for New Orleans and pretty scary for the other 29 starting power forwards.
Our projections for the Pelicans include only a slight improvement from last year, but the jury is still out; how many more gears does Davis have? How well will Asik fit in? And can Ryan Anderson get back to his Orlando form?
Last year, the Pelicans were plagued by injuries. We picked the under largely because we felt that Holiday was pretty overrated, and that he wouldn't single-handedly propel the Pelicans to relevance. But Anthony Davis was well on his way to single-handedly carrying the team there anyway until he missed significant minutes. Furthermore, Ryan Anderson missed a ton of minutes, and underperformed when he was in.
|Al-Farouq Aminu ||2045.0||23||.182||7.8|
|Brian Roberts ||1667.0||28||.015||.5|
|Anthony Morrow ||1426.0||28||.078||2.3|
|Greg Stiemsma ||1007.0||28||.064||1.3|
|Jason Smith ||830.0||28||-.052||-.9|
|Louis Amundson ||184.0||31||.038||.1|
|Lance Thomas ||42.0||26||-.199||-.2|
|James Southerland ||27.0||24||.168||.1|
|Arinze Onuaku ||25.0||27||-.012||0|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
One of the biggest problems for this Pelican's roster was that Aminu was their best wing player, but he had to share minutes with Evans and Gordon. Another big problem is that Austin Rivers never should have made it into the NBA. He was a terrible college player and I find it unlikely that he'd have been drafted (or even made it to Duke) if his surname were "Ocean", instead.
To me, this roster is a huge bag of wasted opportunities. What if they'd gotten Bledsoe instead of Gordon, who is both overrated and injury prone, in the Chris Paul trade? What if they'd drafted....anybody over Rivers? What if they hadn't wasted so much money on Evans, given his redundancy on this roster? And HOLY COW what if they'd just simply kept Nerlens Noel!?
Side rant: I find it funny that the NBA is trying hard to punish Philadelphia's strategy by changing the draft rules. Let's not forget that in the last two drafts, other teams kindly stepped out of the way and gifted Philly the players they wanted at #6 and #3 respectively.
|Omer Asik ||5.0||1972.4||29||.142||5.8|
|John Salmons ||3.0||1311.8||35||.075||2.0|
|Russ Smith ||1.0||997.4||23||.068||1.4|
|Jimmer Fredette ||1.5||685.0||26||.096||1.4|
|Patric Young ||4.0||350.4||22||.030||.2|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
This year does looks like an improvement but only a marginal one. Asik is a great pickup. Omer is a natural 5, meaning that Davis has to spend lest time playing the 5 next to Anderson. Anderson could even play the three in spots given his range. We're also optimistic about Holiday but conservative about Anderson. I don't think any of the other acquisitions they've made will make big impacts, and now that they've declined Rivers' 2015-16 option, they appear to finally be ready to accept the sunk cost and stop giving him significant minutes.
The thing that bugs me about this team is that it is way too old. They should be stocking up on young guys to see who's worthy of sharing the court with Davis, not paying guys like John Salmons to soak up valuable roster space. Even some of those 26 year-olds are just guys who didn't work out on their rookie contracts. Why does this team need Luke Babbitt or Jimmer Fredette? Does anyone believe that these players have untapped star potential?
The Pelicans are in real danger of becoming that poster boy for the "treadmill of mediocrity" meme. But if they do get stuck on that treadmill, it won't because it's inherently terrible to finish with 40 wins. They are stuck on that treadmill because of their own poor decisions. You can win 40 games with Anthony Davis and a collection of average veterans who've already reached their ceilings. Or you can win 40 games with Davis and a collection of 19-22 year olds, some of whom might make leaps to stardom. Trading Noel AND a lottery pick for Holiday, drafting Austin Rivers, paying huge contracts to guys like Gordon and Evans, filling your roster with 26-year-old mediocre players -- those are all expensive mistakes to make in the wake of drafting a superstar like Davis.
Still, Davis might find another gear and that might just be enough to propel this team into the 8th seed in a loaded Western Conference. The team also has room to make more moves (but again, their track record is spotty). In the end, I think there is going to be a lot of wasted talent and opportunity on this roster.