Last summer, the New Orleans Pelicans made a major splash by trading their first round pick in 2013 and 2014 for Jrue Holiday while also signing Tyreke Evans to a monster deal. With those moves, management was expecting the ‘Cans to become a playoff contender in the Western Conference. While the team showed improvement from the prior year, injuries limited the team from making a major leap forward.
That being said, the franchise still has a solid young core led by blossoming superstar Anthony Davis who averaged nearly 21 points and 10 rebounds during his second year in the league. Getting guys back healthy and adding a few minor pieces is mandatory for the Pelicans to take another step in the right direction.
New Orleans Pelicans (27-55 last year)
2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Anthony Davis/Jeff Withey/Alexis Ajinca
PF: Ryan Anderson/^Melvin Ely
SF: Tyreke Evans/*Darius Miller/^Luke Babbitt/*James Southerland
SG: Eric Gordon/Austin Rivers/^Anthony Morrow
PG: Jrue Holiday/*Brian Roberts
NBA Free Agents:
SF-Al-Farouq Aminu (UFA)
PF-Jason Smith (UFA)
C-Greg Stiemsma (UFA)
^SG-Anthony Morrow (TO)
^SF-Luke Babbitt (TO)
^PF-Melvin Ely (TO)
*PG-Brian Roberts (RFA)
*SF-Darius Miller (RFA)
*SF-James Southerland (RFA)
2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $55.5 million
Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson were expected to be major contributors for the New Orleans Pelicans last season but they combined to miss a total of 108 games. Davis and Eric Gordon missed stretches of time as did reserve Jason Smith. Monty Williams was forced into a piecemeal line-up at times. If the Pelicans are truly going to become a playoff level team in the competitive Western Conference, they cannot afford any injuries to their top players.
2. Starting Small Forward:
The Pelicans lured Tyreke Evans to New Orleans last summer and while he put together an okay season, his role moving forward with the Pelicans seems to be more of a sixth man. With Al-Farouq Aminu becoming a free agent, the team needs to find a starting small forward, preferably one who can commit to becoming a defensive stopper. If the price is right, Aminu could be re-signed but the front office should be looking elsewhere in free agency for an upgrade.
3. Depth Inside:
When Anderson and Smith went down, the New Orleans Pelicans were forced to rely on guys like Greg Stiemsma, Alexis Ajinca, and Jeff Withey to plug the hole in the middle. Davis’ versatility does allow him to play either the four or five but with Stiemsma and Smith both unrestricted free agents, New Orleans should look to improve their skill on the inside.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks