Areas Of Strength
The Pelicans found something this season in the Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Anthony Davis trio, which came together beautifully down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs, where they swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the conference semifinals. Head coach Alvin Gentry believed in all three of his stars and the force they bring to the game in their own ways. It’s clear that Davis is on his way to becoming one of the top two or three players in the game, while Holiday reintroduced himself to the league as an elite two-way player and Rondo reminded the world that word of his demise was premature. Add a healthy Cousins to the mix and there’s no telling what the Pelicans could have done in the playoffs.
The supporting cast Gentry had to work with all season presented challenges, but he made it work. He got the best out of the players who floated in and out of the rotation. But there has to be a talent upgrade if the Pelicans are serious about making a permanent move into the playoff mix in the Western Conference. Taking advantage of the prime years of the careers of Davis, Holiday and potentially Cousins, requires a talent upgrade to compete with the rest of the challengers to the throne in the West.
10.7 -- The Pelicans outscored their opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions in 576 minutes with Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic on the floor together.
-- John Schuhmann
The Way To Go
Working with only a second round pick (No. 51) in this draft requires some serious detective work by the Pelicans’ college scouting staff and perhaps more important, a little serendipity. The need for some high-end athletic talent to fall their way can’t be overstated. Caleb Martin, Grayson Allen, Malik Newman and Hamidou Diallo all posses the sort of top-shelf athleticism and versatility the Pelicans are hunting these days to help fortify the roster.
2017-18 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 107.7 (9th)
Defensive: 105.6 (12th)
G: Jrue Holiday
G: Frank Jackson
G: DeAndre Liggins
F/G: E’Twaun Moore
G: Darius Miller
F/C: Anthony Davis
F: Solomon Hill
F: Cheick Diallo
C: Alexis Ajinca
G: Ian Clark (unrestricted)
G: Rajon Rondo (unrestricted)
G: Charles Cooke (restricted)
G: Jordan Crawford (unrestricted)
F: Nikola Mirotic (team option)
C: DeMarcus Cousins (unrestricted)
C: Emeka Okafor (unrestricted)
Recent Draft History
2017: Dwayne Bacon (40) traded to Charlotte, Edmond Sumner (52) traded to Indiana
2016: Buddy Hield (6); David Michineau (39); Diamond Stone (40)
2015: Branden Dawson (56), sold to L.A. Clippers
2013: Nerlens Noel (6) traded to Philadelphia
2012: Anthony Davis (1), Austin Rivers (10), Darius Miller (46)
-- Sekou Smith