The New Orleans Pelicans need some gritty role players to complement their core.
Watching the NBA playoffs it has become clear what the New Orleans Pelicans need and that’s some toughness.
Playoff basketball is intense and we’ve seen players diving all over the floor, ratcheting up their defense and hustling on both ends.
The Pelicans lacked this kind of intensity, which is why they are watching the playoffs from home instead of participating.
The Pels have the star power and scoring, but they need defenders, they need guys who get tough rebounds, set hard screens, commit an occasional hard foul and dive into the stands for loose balls.
Josh Hart can be this type of player at times, but he is still relatively young and just one guy. When you see guys like Montrezl Harrell and P.J. Tucker, you realize it takes more than just flashy passes, dunks and smooth shooting to win in the NBA.
You need toughness and hustle and the Pelicans lack both.
The Pelicans are lucky because the type of players they need are much easier to find than the kinds of players they currently have.
Whether they decide to go the free agent route or make a modest trade, the Pelicans must get tougher.
That’s why I trawled the hustle stats to identify players who fit this mold. Guys who don’t necessarily fill the traditional stat sheets but do the little things that contribute to winning basketball.
“Hustle stats” are fairly new in the NBA and include things like screen assists, loose balls recovered, charges taken and shots contested.
These three players kept popping up in the hustle stats and all three are low-cost options for the Pelicans, either in free agency or via trade.