The New Orleans Pelicans are going to kill Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have a started the season 1-4 but there have been some bright spots.

Brandon Ingram has played well and looks to be making a better effort defensively, which is something we wanted to see.

Jonas Valanciunas has been fantastic, getting 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans while taking on some tough matchups in the first five games.

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The Pelicans’ entire starting lineup has been good to start the season, though Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been hot and cold with his shooting.

The problem has really been the bench, as the Pelicans have gotten next to nothing so far, especially at backup center, which is going to be a problem moving forward.

Jonas Valanciunas is playing heavy minutes, which isn’t sustainable if the Pelicans want him healthy for the entire season.

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With Zion Williamson out, the primary interior duties have fallen on Valanciunas, who has stepped up and looks like he will be a great third option once Zion returns.

But he has played 34.8 minutes per game so far, easily the highest of his career, in fact, Valanciunas has never averaged more than 28.3 minutes per game.

The Pelicans have more or less been playing without a backup center, as Jaxson Hayes has played sparingly and Willie Hernangomez hasn’t played at all.

Jaxson Hayes has been disappointing so far, as many thought he would seize the backup center role and even play some power forward for the New Orleans Pelicans, especially with Zion out.

But that hasn’t happened so far, as Hayes clearly hasn’t earned new head coach Willie Green’s trust.

Instead, we’ve gotten heavy doses of Jonas Valanciunas, and he has responded, but this is not something that is sustainable for a whole season, especially for a big with a history of injuries.

The Pelicans may need to go small and use guys like Herb Jones and Naji Marshall at center to try and spell Valanciunas more often. The Pelicans can’t keep getting 11 minutes per game combined from their backup centers, as Valanciunas is playing way too much and won’t last the season if this continues.

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