New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for the 111-86 loss to the Phoenix Suns

Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot over Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix Suns: Center grades


B. . Center. New Orleans Pelicans. STEVEN ADAMS

Steven Adams had his worst game of the season but was still pretty good.

When he went out in the first quarter, the Pelicans were up by three and looking sharp. By the time he came back in the game was essentially over.

The Pelicans’ defense has been abysmal without Adams on the floor, something they are going to have to figure out.

Maybe the return of Wenyen Gabriel will help, but that seems like a lot to put on a guy who has barely played in the NBA.

The Pelicans might decide to use Willy Hernangomez a bit more or go with four-guard lineups in the second unit, but right now the backup bigs are killing the Pelicans.

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Adams continues to be the most consistent Pelican but he needs some help.

New Orleans Pelicans. JAXSON HAYES. F. . Center

“Jaxson Hayes is only 20,” seems to be the mantra of the season so far.

While true, at some point he has to show that he actually has an NBA skill other than dunking. Hayes did have two blocks in this one but was completely lost on defense most of the time.

He doesn’t appear to have made any strides in this area, which is disappointing. Hayes looks like a guy who should have spent a few more years in college actually learning how to play basketball.

Instead, he is an athletic freak who can’t shoot, pass or defend and he shouldn’t be getting minutes on a good team.

Unlike Melli, there is hope for Hayes, but if he doesn’t show something soon it is fair to question David Griffin’s drafting.

It is only one loss and the New Orleans Pelicans will look to take out their frustration on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Next. 4 trades that could upgrade the bench. dark

Power Forwards

Williamson. New Orleans Pelicans. ZION WILLIAMSON. A-.

Zion’s game reflected the Pels overall. It wasn’t pretty but he got the job done.

Zion notched his third double-double in three games, with 18 points and 11 rebounds while leading the Pelicans in minutes with 38.

Zion did a much better job of taking care of the ball, turning it over only once, and played much better defense, grabbing a career-high five steals and looking far more engaged on that end.

Zion is going to have nights when the other team focuses on shutting him down and he has to resist the urge to force it, as that is when he turns the ball over. Zion let the game come to him and found ways to contribute other than scoring, which is a good sign for his overall development.

. Power Forward. New Orleans Pelicans. NICOLO MELLI. A+

Nicolo Melli had his best game of the season, contributing to the win by not playing a single second in the game.

The Pelicans only played eight players, and you have to wonder if they regret not even trying to find a rotation player in the draft.

Melli is unplayable until he shows he can make a shot, and until then the Pels’ bench is mighty thin. Counting on him to contribute has been one of David Griffin’s big mistakes of the offseason.

Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs dunks the ball as he gets past Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ashley Landis – Pool/Getty Images)New Orleans Pelicans vs. San Antonio Spurs: Center grades

A. . Center. New Orleans Pelicans. STEVEN ADAMS

Steven Adams has been the most consistent Pelican of the young season, putting up another great all-around game and showing his value to the team.

Every time Adams goes to the bench there is a noticeable difference and right now the Pels are struggling when he is off the floor.

This was on full display in the third quarter, when Adams sat and the Pels promptly coughed up a 14 point lead while Jaxson Hayes stood around watching.

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Adams was a team-high +18, and his screens were really the difference in the game, as he was able to open space for Ingram and Ball to hit wide-open shots.

Adams has been a huge upgrade on both ends and so far, one of the best additions of the offseason for any team.

F+. . Center. New Orleans Pelicans. JAXSON HAYES

Jaxson Hayes played slightly better against the Spurs, though his minutes were still a disaster.

Hayes is ok at defending on the ball but he is lost any other time on defense, never rotates and is often just standing in the middle of the lane like a kid lost in the supermarket.

His offense is just as bad, as teams just give him shots from 12 feet that he would never dare shoot. When he and Zion are on the floor together the Pels are so easy to defend that a team of 12-year-olds might be able to stop them.

So far the Pels only glaring weakness is their bench. If Redick doesn’t hit shots they have practically nothing, as Melli and Hayes are unplayable.

The Pels may need to make a move to shore up their bench depth or this is going to haunt them all season.

Next. 4 trades that could upgrade the bench. dark