New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for crushing loss vs. Blazers

(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Blazers: Grades for the bigs

D. . Big. New Orleans Pelicans. STEVEN ADAMS

This was probably Steven Adams’ worst night in a New Orleans Pelicans uniform.

The New Zealand center was borderline unplayable against the Trail Blazers, but the Pels didn’t really have any other options they could go to. Adams was shredded time and time again in high pick-and-roll action involving Damian Lillard. Any screen at the top of the floor meant instant trouble for the Pelicans and Adams was in the picture every single time.

Lillard raining three after three isn’t an indictment on Adams. Of course he can’t guard one of the NBA’s best scorers, but this still happened and it gives me worries about the Kiwi big in playoff situations. Will Adams be able to stay on the floor against the best teams in the league?

I don’t think Stan Van Gundy is entirely to blame for Adams’ defensive woes against Portland. If the Pels had Adams (or any other center for that matter) meet Lillard up high and play horizontal to him, then he would have just killed them off the dribble. In my eyes, this is more so a personnel issue brought on by the front office’s squad building than a tactical problem.

New Orleans Pelicans. JAXSON HAYES. C-. . Big

Jaxson Hayes played about 20 minutes and generally did fine offensively, making both of his shots.

It is defensively where the big man struggled. Hayes picked up four fouls and had a really difficult time guarding the Trail Blazers, much like Steven Adams. I’m not sure about how much we should read into this.

On one hand, Hayes has had an up-and-down season. He is only in his second year in the NBA and the center position is tough to figure out, especially nowadays. However, it’s also true that the Pels drafted Hayes with the idea of him being a switchy, mobile rim protector. If Hayes can’t switch, then you have to double think your frontcourt options at the end of the year.

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New Orleans Pelicans. WILLY HERNANGOMEZ. N/A. . Big

Willy Hernangómez’s scarce minutes don’t warrant a grade, but it was a brief cameo by the big Spaniard.

Hernangómez played for a few moments with Steven Adams and Jaxson Hayes in foul trouble. He was instantly put into screening action by the Blazers. Hernangómez’s problems are what they have always been: despite putting up decent offensive production in limited minutes, he is a minus on the other end of the floor.

Again, I remain interested in seeing what two-way player Will Magnay and South Sudan forward Wenyen Gabriel could bring to the table if given minutes by Van Gundy.

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