New Orleans Pelicans: How Wes Iwundu can help the Pels

Wes Iwundu #25 of the Dallas Mavericks . (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Wes Iwundu #25 of the Dallas Mavericks . (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

When the New Orleans Pelicans traded J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli to the Dallas Mavericks for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu and a second-round pick, Iwundu looked like nothing more than salary filler.

But it was him, not James Johnson, who got off the bench first for the New Orleans Pelicans after the trade, and Iwundu could be the guy who helps the Pels more.

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The Pelicans’ defense has been terrible all season, so adding two guys who can defend and jettisoning the two worst defenders on the team should help.

The Pels know what they are getting in journeyman James Johnson, but what about Wes Iwundu, is he a guy who can help the Pels get to the playoffs?

New Orleans Pelicans: How Wes Iwundu can make the Pels better

Iwundu is a guy who has not played much since entering the league as an older prospect. He is already 26-years-old even though he has only been in the league for four years, so he isn’t a young prospect with a high ceiling.

But he can do some things the Pelicans need, namely defend the perimeter off the bench, provide some energy and run the floor.

Josh Hart is really the only guy off the Pels’ bench who plays defense, and they desperately need someone who can backup Brandon Ingram at small forward, so Iwundu may get minutes.

Iwundu can’t shoot at all, but the Pelicans don’t need scoring, they need guys who play hard and can defend, which Iwundu should be able to do in bursts.

He has a long wingspan of 7-feet, can defend a couple of spots and was a good playmaker in college, so he is not completely lost on offense even though he can’t shoot much.

At worst Iwundu is a guy who can backup a couple of spots, can defend up or down and will hustle, which are all things the Pelicans need.

At best, he could be an impact wing defender who can take some of the pressure off Ingram and Hart while grabbing rebounds and taking on a tough defensive assignment.

Wes Iwundu is not going to be the final piece of the puzzle for the Pelicans and I was surprised he even got off the bench given that guys like Wenyen Gabriel haven’t been able to find minutes.

Stan Van Gundy must see some potential in his defense and rebounding, which is all Iwundu will ever be asked to do for the Pels. Let’s hope he can make an impact.

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