Since Dell Demps has been in charge the New Orleans Pelicans have always found a few hidden gems to add to their roster from places like the Samsung Las Vegas Summer League and in Europe.
This season those gems seem to be second round draft pick Russ Smith, who shined and dimed on the competition this year in Vegas and rebounding machine Patric Young who caused havoc for other teams in the paint and earned himself a two-year deal with New Orleans. While these two players were the biggest and brightest names on the Pelicans roster this summer, another player also upped his stock over the five games of summer league, though he might struggle to find a job on the Pelicans this upcoming season.
Former NC-State and D-League standout Courtney Fells had quite the stat line for the Pelicans this summer. Fells put up 15 points per game on 53.8% shooting from the field and 48.1% from behind the three-point line, to go along with 2.6 RPG and a steal per game. Those numbers are considered a positive for a team that struggled to get many quality looks from behind the three-point line last season. Fells’ numbers last year while a member of the Austin Toros were pretty solid as well, as he shot 47.5% from the field along with 37.6% from three to put in 18 points per game in 35.7 minutes a game for the Toros. Fells is a lights out shooter who can fill the hole left by sharpshooter Anthony Morrow‘s move to the Thunder. It seemed like a perfect fit for the Pelicans….until the Jimmer Fredette signing.
The Pelicans signed Fredette to a one-year deal on Friday and now seem to have a lock on their six guard rotation for the upcoming campaign. Jimmer has lights out shooting capabilities, yet due to lack of playing time on the court for the Bulls and Kings last season, he didn’t get much of an opportunity to show it. Unless the Pelicans look to move a player before the season starts, there won’t be a spot open for Fells on the current roster. However, let’s not think that counts out Fells’ chances at becoming a future Pelican.
New Orleans is far from set on their long-term plans at shooting guard. Austin Rivers is the main backup SG to Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, yet his game has not yet reached his potential as a 10th pick in the draft. He’s developed a good drive-to-the-basket game, however the other assets of his game still need plenty of work. And unlike Austin, Fells’ skills compliment better with Evans and Gordon, since Rivers’ game is far too similar to those of the other two, shooting guards on the team. New Orleans has looked to moved Rivers before and if he continues to struggle, he could be on the move at the trade deadline this year.
While Fredette is more so what the Pelicans want in their backup shooting guards, Jimmer seems to be more of a test run with only a one year deal. One underrated reason the Pelicans might’ve gone after Jimmer is he has already played with Tyreke Evans in his time in Sacramento and had favorable numbers with them both on the court. The Pelicans are looking to use Jimmer more of a shooter than a facilitating guard, yet if he struggles to get into the motion of the offense, they could look for another answer as a bench two.
So what’s the answer for Courtney Fells? Fells could be a lights out shooter in the NBA, and could be a step forward in finding a replacement for Morrow. However, New Orleans could be worried about his lack of a huge defensive presence at summer league and question if he can translate his scoring effectiveness at the NBA level. The Pelicans could try to sign him to a smaller deal and throw him in the D-League, in case they do decide to move one of their other guards during the season. The Pelicans could also let Fells return to the D-League this season without a contract and keep an eye on him during the year, hoping he’ll be available next summer while risking another team nabbing him with a contract offer.
Whatever the case, Courtney Fells is a big winner this summer, with his stellar play throughout the entire summer league greatly helped his chances of making it to the NBA, possibly even for the Pelicans, in the future.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans