Sorry for the break but the weekend was a tad bit busy. Also, stop raining and start snowing again Northeast, gosh.
So it is decision time for the New Orleans Pelicans. This young team had a lot of promise when they surprisingly brought in Tyreke Evans, shocked everyone by trading for Jrue Holiday, and snagged the underrated Ryan Anderson. These three paired up with Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis to form a young, formidable team. As it turns out not so much. at 15-21, the Pelicans are 12th in the East. To make matters worse, after losing leading scorer Ryan Anderson last week, Jrue Holiday will be wearing a suit on the bench for the foreseeable future with a stress fracture in his right leg.
So where do the Pelicans go from here? Yes, Anthony Davis is a budding superstar averaging 19.6 ppg, 10.3 rpb, and an amazing 3.1 blocks per game. Eric Gordon is having a rebound year averaging 16 points per game and heating up of late. And no one is walking after this season so there is time for this team to grow.
But there are red flags. Tyreke Evans is not fitting in as expected (or was that expected?). He is scoring 4 points under his average and still has periods where he looks lost, disinterested, and/or out of position. Davis still needs to bulk up to deal with the likes of Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, and Marc Gasol. Can Holiday and Gordon coexist? What about Holiday and Evans? Will Anderson be healthy when he returns? What about their depth?
The biggest kicker is that the Pelicans made a bet this offseason. They traded their first round pick to the Sixers in the Holiday deal. The thought was that it wouldn’t mean much as they wouldn’t be in the lottery. But now in this loaded draft class, it looks like a steal for the Sixers.
So what can the Pelicans do?
Healing the Wings
The Pelicans can stay the course, wait for Holiday and Anderson to return (plus get Evans back to full strength) and hope for a late push along with build for next year. There is nothing wrong with this.
But Door #2 is a different strategy. The pick they gave to the Sixers is Top-5 protected. So the Pelicans could go the other way. Trade Eric Gordon (there is a market for him), play the terrible Austin Rivers, keep Ryan Anderson out for the season, and just say screw it. They could end up with a top-5 pick and in the West, it isn’t hard to lose a lot of games. Interesting.
The fact that the Pelicans have this option is one of the things that is wrong with the NBA. By tanking in a season where their playoff hopes already look slim, the Pelicans will be making the right decision. Which is just plain wrong. This is why the NBA has such a problem. Part of the solution would be to get rid of protected picks, which I personally hate. All it does is help push a team to tank. The Pelicans are the perfect example of this. And this would hurt the Sixers immensely even after they gave up a young, All-Star point guard for it. Something needs to change for the NBA to start gaining traction in the sporting world again.