After agreeing to a two-year contract with undrafted big man Patric Young, and one-year contracts with both Darius Miller and Jimmer Fredette the New Orleans Pelicans now have the maximum allowed 15 players on their roster. While there could still potentially be a few moves made (both Luke Babbitt and Jeff Withey have unguaranteed contracts so they can be cut for roster space to bring in another player) this felt as good a time as any to put together a quick guess at the 2014-2015 depth chart.
Holiday is clearly the starter at point guard provided he bounces back to normal after missing much of last year due to injury. After that though things seem a bit up in the air. Rivers is the incumbent but the Pelicans went and got Smith during the NBA Draft and he played pretty well during his time in Las Vegas for summer league. Fredette seems to be here just in case of a rash of injuries and as a way to add shooting in emergencies. If Eric Gordon is moved Rivers could potentially also see some time as the backup shooting guard which could open up minutes for Smith.
- Eric Gordon
- Tyreke Evans
- Austin Rivers
- Jimmer Fredette
This is one of the tougher spots to predict on the roster. Evans was better last season than Gordon but he also seems better fit to play more with the bench unit as the lead scorer and creator. It seems obvious that if the Pelicans can find a way to move Gordon before the start of the season for anything they will do it in which case Rivers seems likely to be the backup two-guard next to Smith. That would be a small backcourt but there really isn’t any other way for New Orleans to go as Fredette isn’t exactly big himself.
- Tyreke Evans
- John Salmons
- Luke Babbitt
- Darius Miller
I know Monty Williams keeps saying that Tyreke Evans isn’t a small forward but it is almost impossible to believe that a team that has aspirations of a Western Conference playoff spot will start John Salmons at small forward for 82 games. Babbitt and Miller could flip but at this point I have Babbitt ahead just based on his superior three-point shooting. This is by far the weakest unit on the team though and gets even weaker if Williams sticks with his Tyreke won’t play small forward thing.
This is the easiest position to figure out right now. Davis is the best player on the team and the undisputed starter at power forward. As long as Ryan Anderson recovers well from his injury, and all indications at this point are that he is doing just that, then he is clearly the third big in the rotation and will probably earn himself somewhere around 30 minutes a night. After that Young seems to be in line though it wouldn’t surprise me to see Babbitt jump him if Anderson misses games as he would at least somewhat replicate his spacing with the bench unit that Young can’t.
I have no idea how the center rotation is going to play out behind Asik. Withey and Ajinca bring prototypical center size that the 6’9” Young lacks but it seems a bit strange that the Pelicans would sign Young to a two-year contract, and that he would agree to it, without plans to actually use him. All three can handle the job as it will only be around nine to ten minutes a night so the player that emerges may be one that specializes in something Monty Williams feels the team needs. For Young that looks like blitzing the pick-and-roll and offensive rebounding, for Ajinca knocking down mid-range jumpers and defensive rebounding and for Withey blocking shots. I leaned Withey because of how high the team seemed on him going into summer league but really this is probably a 2a, 2b, 2c situation at the moment.
Obviously there is plenty of time left before the season starts for things to change and Dell Demps has never been predictable so things could be radically different before the start of the season but for right now the exercise is just a reminder that while the core of the Pelicans seems set there is plenty of uncertainty with the roster as we go forward.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans