• One of my favorite things to do is to predict changes in players’ shots/points per game. For as much as scoring is often overrated, it is unequivocally still a primary consideration when constructing an offense.  You aren’t getting many offensive rebounds if you have an offense devoid of anyone who can bend a defense, nor do passes mean much when the players receiving them aren’t threats to score.

    With this in mind, I wanted to identify who will be the guys looking for theirs as Pelicans, and in what order they’ll be receiving these looks.

    1. Jrue Holiday

    It has been mentioned ad-nauseam this summer: Jrue Holiday is THE GUY on this team, and you better believe that he’ll get the touches to back this up.  I talked about this last article, as Jrue’s usage was understandably different when Anthony Davis was not playing.  If I had to guess, Jrue Holiday will generate 18-plus shots a game this year, which would easily eclipse any other season in his career.

    Whether Jrue plays “point guard” is a more difficult question, as the Pelicans believe he is best while not assuming a full-time distribution load.  How much he plays with Lonzo Ball will undoubtedly factor into this analysis, as Lonzo can alleviate this burden.  The Pelicans really don’t have a guy capable of running point outside of Lonzo and Jrue (I am anticipating a learning curve for Nickeil Alexander-Walker), so it’s safe to assume that Holiday will shoulder at least some of this responsibility.

    In short, Jrue will both get his shots and his time to initiate offensive actions, whether he’s labelled a point guard or not.

    2. Brandon Ingram

    Ingram projects to be the second-highest Pelican in terms of usage.  As Michael McNamara pointed out this summer, we really should evaluate hierarchy in terms of who gets looks in halfcourt situations, and that is why I have Ingram over Zion.

    It will come as no shock to anyone that Ingram generated more shots while LeBron James was off the court last year, as LeBron tends to have the ball in his hands a whole lot each possession.  Without LeBron on the court, Ingram basically got an extra two shots per 36 minutes.

    Whether Ingram starts or not is up to debate in my mind, but I don’t have much doubt that he’s going to get his looks.  Aside from Holiday, Ingram is easily the second-best Pelican in terms of creating his own shot.

    3. Zion Williamson

    This one was a bit harder, as I was between Zion and Derrick Favors for this spot.  I gave Zion the edge for this reason: I think he’ll get opportunities to handle the ball in pick/roll situations to take advantage of mismatches, and what’s more, I think he’s going to be absolute dynamite in transition, much like Blake Griffin was when he came out of Oklahoma.

    I think Zion is also going to create a lot of his own opportunities, as there really aren’t many guys I can think of who can absolutely punish switches quite like Zion projects to do.  He’ll have adjustments to make of course, like finding a way to finish against NBA length when he can’t get the launching pad, but his athleticism translates excellently to the NBA and I fully expect him to find ways to generate volume even if plays aren’t drawn up for him.

    4. Derrick Favors

    This is also a difficult choice, as it will heavily rely upon how many minutes Favors gets.  When I had Ben Dowsett of Utah on my podcast, he mentioned what unbelievable shape Favors is in, and now Favors gets a chance to run slower fives out of the gym as he transitions into a full-time role at center.  Shamit Dua has also been screaming from the rooftops that Favors should get run in an uptempo offense.

    It is somewhat hidden because he only played 23 minutes per game last year, but Favors was scoring at an 18 points per-36-minute clip, which is very solid.  Normally, I would expect a player in Favors’ position to generate fewer shots per minute in a full-time role, but I think that number will actually go up since he will be in closer proximity to the basket.  Favors has no business shooting from the perimeter and should no longer be asked to do that since he isn’t paired with Rudy Gobert, and I would expect Favors to gobble more shots and rebounds as a result.

    5. JJ Redick

    Redick was the obvious choice here, and really could be as high as third depending on how many minutes he gets.  Redick is an absolute gunner, and if anything, registers FGA/possession in the neighborhood of Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram.  Redick will serve a very particular purpose for a team that doesn’t have a lot of outside shooting and could be seeing close to 30 minutes per game if the team feels it needs someone to unclog lanes for its primary options.

    However the minutes shake out this season, fantasy fans should fully expect several of the guys on this team to have career seasons.  The Pelicans took over 90 shots per game last season and there is a huge usage void where Anthony Davis was last year.  The team’s clear advantage in games is going to be its depth and athleticism, and I would guess that they’ll actually register a higher pace than they did last season.  That makes for big numbers and excellent fantasy basketball prospects.

Fantasy News

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.

    The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".

    One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.

    Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.

    Source: James Edwards III

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter