No team has endured a more disappointing season than the Pelicans.
A glance at the bottom of the conference standings yields few surprises. Teams such as the Sixers, Nets, Lakers, Timberwolves and Suns weren’t expected to make any noise, either because they’re in rebuilding mode or they simply don’t have enough talent. That wasn’t the case with New Orleans, which appeared to be on the rise after making a playoff appearance last season.
Superstar Anthony Davis signed an extension and the Pelicans kept their core group intact, with the expectation they would continue to build chemistry after winning 45 regular-season games. Veteran coach Alvin Gentry was hired away from the NBA champion Warriors to get the franchise to the next level.
Instead of another jump in the standings, the Pelicans have floundered throughout the first 35 games of the season, recording just 11 victories and possessing the Western Conference’s second-worst record.
Injuries are partially to blame. Tyreke Evans has missed about half of the team’s games, Jrue Holiday was eased back into action after a couple of injury-plagued seasons and Davis has sat out all or most of six games with assorted issues. Then came word on Monday that Quincy Pondexter, who hasn’t played this season but was expected back this month, will need season-ending surgery.
That still doesn’t explain away the team’s woeful showing during the first half of the season. The Pelicans rank in the bottom third of the league in defensive field-goal percentage and rebounding, and in the middle of the pack offensively in adjusted field-goal percentage.
New Orleans has four other players besides Davis averaging at least 12.9 points per game — Ryan Anderson, Evans, Eric Gordon and Holiday — yet none has emerged as the clearcut No. 2 option. Anderson and Gordon become unrestricted free agents after the season, with Anderson generally considered to be the team’s most movable piece if they decide to make a significant trade before the February deadline.
Adding to the intrigue is that the Pelicans are reportedly interested in hiring NBA Hall of Famer and longtime Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars for a major front office role.
This leads us to our question of the day: What is the Pelicans’ biggest need in order to reverse their downward spiral and become a perennial playoff contender?
Please take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the subject. We look forward to what you have to say.