May 31, 2016, 9:00 am
This season, the New Orleans Pelicans were one of the most enigmatic and beat up teams in recent history. Limping to the finish was an understatement for this squad in a season that went far too long after a discouraging 1-11 start. Things didn’t get much better as the season progressed as they witnessed injuries to ALL of their key players (with the exception of Omer Asik!).
In fantasy leagues however, key injuries always open up opportunities to be exploited on the waiver-wire so we are going to look at the organization as a whole from the coaching right down to the no-name brand players below in this Hoop-Ball season review of the New Orleans Pelicans by your waiver-wire expert Andy Tran.
Of course, be sure to follow us at @HoopBallTweets and myself @the_acylum and we are set to bring you the most comprehensive playoff and off-season coverage you’ve ever seen in the world of fantasy sports news!
The New Orleans Pelicans were one of the teams to watch in the Western conference coming into the season boasting a stacked roster of fearsome household names in the NBA. However, disappointing play from their star players early on and the worst injury bug infestation the NBA has ever seen later on in the season; doomed the Pelicans to a 30-52 record (good for a stinking 12th place finish in the Western conference).
The Pelicans organization may have their finger on the panic button after realizing that they purchased a bunch of damaged goods and will be looking to make a splash in the off-season with Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon coming off the books to free up enough money to sign a max-type player to play in the sandbox with Anthony Davis.
Alvin Gentry was the man behind the pine this year and did a find job making light of his injury ravaged team by dropping great jokes to the media. However, that was pretty much the end of his list of positive achievements for the 2015/16 regular season. Gentry strutted into New Orleans in the off-season as the assistant head coach of the defending NBA champions but his resume ultimately only got him as far as the front door this season.
Philosophically in basketball, he is a man famously known for his run-and-gun style offense although it looked more like a crash-and-burn offense at times. He made it clear that this was the system that he was bringing to New Orleans early in the off-season and the monster-upside Anthony Davis hype was deafening prior to opening night in fantasy circles.
Unfortunately, a LOT of things didn’t go the Pelicans’ way this year and Gentry may get a pass from the organizational brass for a disappointing campaign. He is one year into his three-year contract with the organization and all indications point to him being behind the bench on opening night in 2016/17.
His head coaching record isn’t pretty at 365-422 and eight out of ten missed postseasons in seasons that he coached the entire year. With the minimal job security enjoyed by head coaches nowadays it won’t be surprising to see him handing out resumes again soon. A lot needs to be proven on Gentry’s development of Anthony Davis, which is sure to be a key performance measure.
THE BIG NAMES
ADP: 1, Total Value: 25/19 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 8/4 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 61
Anthony Davis continued his trend of 60-something games played in the year which didn’t exactly help him shed his injury prone label. He was shut down on March 18 with injuries to his left knee and left shoulder. Both of these injuries required multiple surgeries and he is expected to miss the Summer Olympics in Rio.
Many analysts and NBA know-it-alls have agreed that Anthony Davis took a step-back this year although his scoring and rebounding averages are almost identical from last season (24.3 PPG vs 24.4 PPG and 10.3 REB vs 10.2 REB.) A lot of this talk stems from the fact that the Pelicans won only 30 games this year vs. 45 games the year prior.
Of course when you win only 66% of the games you won the previous year and miss the playoffs, the finger is pointed straight at your star players and the coaching staff. To his defense, a lot of pressure was put on his shoulders to elevate the franchise to the next level with a cast of equally injury prone stars in a top-heavy Western conference. The entire organization and a myriad of injuries clouded the true reason for the Pelicans’ struggles, so next year will likely test Davis’ leadership and MVP upside ability.
Prior to the season though, the ceiling was expected to blow right off of the Brow in a high-tempo offense with some added 3-point range. A lot of this talk is what made Anthony Davis the likely number one pick in your drafts. He did add 3-point range to his repertoire, draining 35 3-pointers out of 108 attempts.
Both of these are career-highs by a mile and are encouraging signs for his future fantasy value, however critics have argued that Davis is best utilized in the post for the Pelicans to have the best chance at winning NBA contests. This will be a major issue to be addressed by Alvin Gentry and his coaching staff in the off-season and we’ll see how well it translates to Anthony Davis’ value next year.
As it stands right now, coming off major surgeries to his knee and shoulder you’d have to have a gun to your head to take the Brow with the first overall pick next season. If he has a full recovery to begin the season, I don’t see him falling out of the top-five and definitely not out of the top-10 in standard leagues. His upside is just too big and if he makes it past 65 games then consider yourself lucky.
ADP: 75, Total Value: 76/93 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 47/60 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 65
The Pelicans may have picked up damaged goods when they traded for Jrue Holiday in 2014. It was kind of ironic that they traded away the draft rights to Nerlens Noel in fear of his injury issues for Jrue Holiday who ended up missing almost a whole season’s worth of games since joining the team with leg issues.
They did manage to squeeze out 65 games from Holiday who avoided any major aggravation to his oft-injured legs but ultimately lost him for the season to a freak orbital fracture after a collision with Kristaps Porzingis during a game.
Holiday was kept on a minutes restriction for much of the early portion of the season and was held out of back-to-back games to keep him healthy until Christmas. He was a frustrating player to own up until Christmas but owners knew what they were getting themselves into when they drafted Holiday.
Accordingly, missing the start of the season dropped his ADP into the later-middle rounds. The minutes restriction gave Holiday a home on the bench for the first extended period in his career, which is where he started for 42 games. He exhibited a great attitude despite his reduced role and responded with 17 points per game in those contests, which had him in the sixth man of the year conversation.
He will look to continue to stay healthy next year which is an unlikely trend with only one 82 game season under his belt. Anything over 60 games will be a blessing for owners which will once again see Holiday around the top-80 range in terms of ADP. He will be a high-risk, high reward play in the mid-to-later rounds of standard league drafts. He will be entering the final year of his 4-year contract and will look to get a big raise with the new CBA if he can do his part in shedding his injury prone label.
ADP: 93, Total Value: 115/103 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 80/76 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 66
Next up we have Ryan Anderson who also fits in the category of injury prone players for the Pelicans. Anderson played in 66 games before a sports hernia sidelined him for the last 14 games of the season. The long range bomber did impress during his time on the court with some huge 30-point plus performances for the Pelicans.
The last few seasons have been tough for Ryno as he’s missed almost 100 contests during that span. He finished the year with averages of 17 PPG, 6.0 REB, 2.0 3PM and 2.7 AST per game in 30.4 minutes and a lot of his production next year will depend on his ability to remain on the court.
Playing 60+ games has become a gift from Ryan Anderson and he’ll enter free-agency this season with a new home likely in October. He’ll still return elite production in the 3PM category but he could become just a 3-point specialist if you’re dealing with the headaches of DNPs.
ADP: 100, Total Value: 198/193(8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 78/69 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 45
Eric Gordon who has earned the nickname Paper Mario in my leagues has played in less than 60 games in four of his eight NBA seasons. He was perhaps the poster boy of the Pelicans injury woes this year after breaking the same finger twice which cost him half a season.
Gordon had a great start to the season playing in all 41 games as the starting shooting-guard before fracturing his finger for the first of two times in 2016. During this span he averaged 15.1 PPG, 2.5 3PM, 2.7 AST, 2.2 REB and 0.9 STL in 33.6 minutes. A lot of this production was inflated by the early season absence of Tyreke Evans and the limited minutes for Jrue Holiday.
He enters free-agency this year and will likely have to accept a discounted salary due to his injury prone label. It’s hard to gauge his value next year without knowing his role but he should be able to carve out decent mid-to-late round upside if he hands a starting gig somewhere and if he stays healthy. Historically, that’s been a big IF.
ADP: 101, Total Value: 267/276 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 42/64 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 25
Sigh, remember when Tyreke Evans decisively won Rookie of the Year honors over Stephen Curry? It seems almost an eternity ago and almost unbelievable today. It was a tragic year for the talented swingman and budding star who played a career low 25 games in 2015/16. He suffered from nagging knee tendinitis that eventually required surgery which cut his season short just before the All-Star break. He was already held out of the team’s first 15 games due to recovery from a related off-season knee surgery.
It was a forgettable year for Tyreke despite healthy averages of 15.2 PPG, 4.4 REB, 5.3 AST and 1.3 STL. He did average 30 minutes in those games so if he can remain on the floor next season, he’ll bring fourth-round upside to owners willing to gamble on his health. He’ll be entering the final year of his contract so he’ll be playing for a big raise in 2016/17. He will likely be under-drafted in your league so monitor his health over the off-season to draft appropriately.
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 269/281 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 183/220 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 45
Don’t let those numbers fool you, Norris Cole was a huge fantasy contributor and was one of the better pick-ups at one point of the year until he ultimately crashed and burned like his Pelican’s teammates. He like Tyreke Evans, started the year on the shelf with an ankle injury and his season was cut short ultimately with lower back issues in March.
Cole’s window of opportunity blew wide open due to major injuries to Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. He was able to capitalize with some solid short-term fantasy production for savvy owners who were able to pluck him off the wire. He was flirting with top-100 value that was brought down only by his expected lower efficiency as one of the top options on the floor. The 45 games were a career low for Cole but there have been no indications that this will be a trend.
Cole will begin next year as the primary backup point guard to Jrue Holiday and he may provide sneaky late round value in standard leagues. He is definitely recommended as a handcuff to Jrue Holiday but most owners can afford to monitor Cole from the waiver wire.
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 197/161 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 183/152 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 61
Toney Douglas was waived three times in the past year. Twice by the Pelicans and once by the Pacers. He began the year as a Pacer but was waived and picked up again by the Pelicans in late October. He ended up playing in 61 games for the Pelicans which was pretty miraculous given how hard it was for anyone on the roster to stay healthy.
Douglas had his chance to shine when Norris Cole, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon all went down with season-ending injuries. He responded with top-180 value with averages of 8.7 PTS, 1.3 3PM, 2.3 REB, 2.5 AST and 1.1 STL with only 1 TO per game. As such, he was a popular waiver wire addition as he started 18 of the Pelicans’ last 19 games of the regular season while delivering some of the best stat-lines of his career cracking the top-100 in standard leagues during that time.
Cole even put up three straight 20 point nights to finish the season strong as one of the few bright spots for the Pelicans on the year. Unfortunately he enters the off-season as a free-agent for the third time in the past four summers and his role if any next year depends on where he lands.
GUYS TO WATCH
ADP: N/A, Per-Game Value: 156/171 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 11
Spending most of the last four years in the D-League, Hamilton received a phone call from the desperate Pelicans who were running out of warm bodies to suit up on gameday. They were seeking players who could generate offense and Hamilton fit the mold. He scored in double-digits in eight of his 11 games and was a popular spot-start in deeper fantasy leagues this season. He’ll hope that his short performance with the Pelicans will earn him a spot on a roster next year.
Hamilton currently set to become an unrestricted free agent. He could be a name to watch if he ends up in the right situation but he also has a seemingly equal shot of ending back up in the D-League.
ADP: N/A, Per-Game Value: 305/286 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 47
Luke Babbitt was one of the rare Pelicans players to begin and end the season healthy. Although he spent most of his time on the bench earlier in the season, his role blew up from nightly DNPs to getting over 31 minutes per game. During this span he was able to put up the biggest numbers of his career with averages of 15.7 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.5 AST and 1.5 3PM.
With Tyreke Evans likely to return healthy next season, Babbitt will likely begin next season buried on the bench again. It was fun while it lasted though!
ADP: N/A, Per-Game Value: 301/326 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 51
Frazier really stepped with injuries to Norris Cole and Jrue Holiday. He was a popular waiver wire pick-up and was scorching hot to wrap up the year putting up elite point-guard stats in crunch time for fantasy owners averaging 7.5 assists in his last 16 games of the season. He ran the offense with ease and created plays for his second and third string caliber teammates. He comes off the books this season and he’ll likely struggle to find an NBA home next year with point guard being one of the deepest positions in the league.
ADP: N/A, Per-Game Value: 260/250 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 73
Gee’s season was cut short due to a quad injury suffered in game. He wasn’t missed much as he was otherwise invisible for most of the season despite being second place in games played for the Pelicans this year. He finished with putrid averages of 4.4 PTS, 3.4 REB, and 0.9 STL in 22.4 minutes. He will return next year for the final year of his contract if he exercises his player-option this Summer. He’ll serve as nothing more than depth and insurance at the small forward position likely behind Luke Babbitt.
ADP: 138, Per-Game Value: 326/325 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 68
If you drafted Omer Asik this year, chances are you didn’t bring any hardware home. Asik who was projected to be the starter alongside Anthony Davis completely face planted this year despite playing in 68 games this year. The seven-foot big man already had issues with getting blocks which deterred most savvy owners from drafting him but if you were stuck with Asik, you were punished with season averages of 4.0 PTS and 6.1 REB in 17.3 minutes per game.
Asik is on contract for the next four years at around $10 million dollars a year so he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With Ryan Anderson likely to skip town, the Pelicans will be looking for frontcourt help, which will damper whatever little fantasy value Omer Asik possessed. It was a disappointing year for Asik and he should be kept firmly off draft boards next year.
ADP: N/A, Per-Game Value: 258/265 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 59
Alexis Ajinca was nothing more than Anthony Davis insurance this year and he was definitely the cheapest insurance that money could buy. He did however put up two 20-point games this season with injuries to the entire starting lineup and he’s nothing more than a nightly DFS punt-play dart throw when he starts. He’s on contract for another three years.
The winner for most games played by a Pelican last year? It was Dante Cunningham with 80 games, however he was the equivalent of a pylon on the court this season and you should be paying more attention to your girlfriend on draft day. He’ll be wearing a Pelicans jersey for another two-years.
An enforcer on any team that he plays for but completely useless in terms of fantasy value. He hits free agency this season and should be able to latch onto a team at the veterans minimum to help mentor young players.
The Pelicans will need to get back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference and a lot of this depends on the performance of their all-star Anthony Davis who is fresh off signing a five-year $145M contract with the Pelicans. The Pelicans will be active this Summer as they attempt to lure any big name interested in playing alongside the Brow.
If playmakers Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans stay healthy, we can see a team with great ball movement next year with some big highlight plays. The biggest need that the Pelicans need to address is at the power-forward position with Ryan Anderson about to walk in free agency.
Depending on how Alvin Gentry decides to use Anthony Davis next year, another stretch-four may make sense for the Pelicans. Notable power-forwards who would fit mold would be Pau Gasol (player option) and Jared Sullinger (restricted free agent). David Lee (UFA) and Ersan Ilyasova (team option) are also interesting options.
There should be less pressure on Anthony Davis’ shoulders as there is only one way to go from here and that is up. Other big name free agents such as Kevin Durant could turn the Pelicans into a super-team but New Orleans fans can only dream of that right now. If the team’s misfortunes don’t turn around next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alvin Gentry taking the fall for it.