The 2013-2014 season presented plenty of problems for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The most glaring issue that arose for the Pelicans was the health of their roster. It all started when Ryan Andersen went down with his back injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season on the third day in January. One week later, at home versus the Dallas Mavericks, Jrue Holiday went down with a broken tibia that would sideline him for the remainder of the season. The last major blow came when center Jason Smith also went down for the season with a right knee injury. The cake was done and cooled off, but the icing had to be put on and towards the end of the season it was when Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis would eventually be held out of games.
While injuries were the main issue with the Pelicans regular season and getting all of their players healthy and ready for next season is priority number one for this offseason, there are plenty of other things that the Pelicans can do to improve themselves.
First and foremost on the agenda for the offseason should be to get Tyreke Evans in the starting lineup in front of Eric Gordon. Despite his higher pay, Eric Gordon has been a less effective starter than Evans. During starts, Evans averaged near 20 points per game, as opposed to Gordon, who only averaged a hair above 15 point per game as a starter. Overall with Tyreke in the starting lineup, the Pelicans were a .500 team, which would be an improvement over 34-48 in any situation.
Since Tyreke needs to be in the starting lineup, that leaves you with Eric Gordon playing off the bench as a sixth man, or Tyreke playing small forward. The problem with Tyreke playing the small forward is that he is a bit undersized to play the spot, so you are all but forced to play him at shooting guard. This leaves you with the option of what to do with Eric Gordon.
Trading Eric Gordon would be the most ideal situation for this team. Getting rid of his contract which has two more years on it, the second year of which is a player option for $15.5 million, would give them more flexibility going down the road, and brings the opportunity to bring in another solid shooter to surround Anthony Davis with. This shooter would preferably be at the small forward spot, where Al-Farouq Aminu has struggled on the offensive end of the floor.
Aminu brings up another issue that the Pelicans should address in the offseason, their small forward position as a whole, and also their depth in the front court. While Aminu came into the league as someone who was always going to be better on the defensive end of the floor, but he has struggled immensely shooting the long ball. If the Pelicans are planing to re-sign him, he needs to take the next step on the offensive side of the ball and prepare to take on more of a scoring load. If not, the Pelicans will be looking for suitable replacements on the free agent market.
Fixing the defense is the main issue for the Pelicans, who tied with the Pistons for 25th in the league in defensive efficiency at 107.3. Injuries may have played a big part in this. Losing Jrue Holiday, the starting point guard who is a solid defender, hurts but New Orleans have yet to obtain a mobile center.
Anthony Davis is a solid defender, posting a 104 defensive rating, and a shot blocker, he and the team as a whole need to improve on rotations, and staying locked in on the defensive end of the court, especially in the pick-and-roll, something that has given them a lot of trouble this year.
Players coming back from injury will help this team defensively, and so will natural progression. The Pelicans are one of the youngest teams in the league, and inexperience comes with the territory, another year of being in the system should clean up some of the mistakes.
Last but not least in the issues that need to be addressed is the coaching situation. On that front, let us be calm with Monty Williams. Throughout the season, he dealt with a revolving door of players due to injuries to just about every key player on the roster. Even with the injuries and uncertainty at every position that wasn’t power forward, Williams closed the season strong. In March, Williams led the Pelicans to a 9-7 record, and in the final two regular season games, he got them to perform well enough to earn victories over Oklahoma City and Houston.
Given all of the adversity this team has faced this year, there are positives to take away from it all; however, the negatives far outweighed the positives, and some things are meant to change. We all look forward to a hopefully competitive Pelicans team next season, hopefully they make some of the changes necessary to get them there.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans