Three buyout players the Pelicans should target

Serge Ibaka, Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Serge Ibaka, Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Editor’s note: Bryn Forbes, who is one of the players elaborated upon in this article, was arrested on Wednesday, hours after this article was published, for allegedly assaulting a woman. He should no longer be considered a buyout option for the Pelicans due to the serious nature of the allegations.

With the trade deadline now behind us, the best way for this New Orleans Pelicans team to bolster their roster is through the buyout market. So, to commemorate the buyout season, we decided to outline three potential options for the Pelicans to target.

What do the Pelicans need?

The first (and most important part) of identifying great buyout candidates is figuring out what your team’s weaknesses are. Very rarely is anyone available on the buyout market going to be worth adding on your roster if they are not addressing a glaring need.

For the Pelicans, those needs are pretty clearly shooting and rim protection. They are 25th in 3-point makes per 100 possessions and 27th in 3-point attempts. Teams don’t respect their ability to spray it from out there, so they often opt to pack the paint against them and dare their shooters to burn them from the outside.

As for the rim protection, the team touts a ton of gargantuan bodies, but none of them are very good at protecting the rim. As a team, they are 23rd in blocks per 100 and 30th in opponent rim accuracy (per Cleaning the Glass). That is #notgood.

With this established, the following prescriptions are going to have these two weaknesses in mind.

Buyout Target #1: Serge Ibaka

In theory, Serge Ibaka shores up both the team’s weaknesses. On the year (albeit on a very limited sample size), Ibaka is in the 61st percentile in BLK% for his position and the 79th percentile in difference in opponent rim accuracy when he’s on the floor (meaning that his team’s rim protection improves when he’s on the floor).

On top of that, he’s a career 35.9% 3-point shooter, so he can stretch the floor out a little on offense to augment his fortifying presence on defense.

We say in theory because there are some big question marks about how much Ibaka has left in the tank. He only played 185 minutes for the Milwaukee Bucks this season and was traded to the Indiana Pacers in the deal that netted them Jae Crowder. 

One would assume that the Bucks, a team firmly in the mix for the NBA title, would not so easily part ways with a player that could contribute to a deep playoff run.

Buyout Target #2: Bryn Forbes

At 6’2, Bryn Forbes is not providing much by way of rim protection, but he is a wickedly good shooter. On his career, he’s shooting 41% on 4.1 3-point attempts per game, making him a great counter to defenses’ paint-packing practices.

He only shot 30.4% on his 46 3-point attempts this year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that’s such a small sample size that it shouldn’t cloud the team’s assessment of his overall marksmanship.

Buyout Target #3: Will Barton

Like Forbes, bringing in Will Barton would be a step toward improving the team’s outside shooting prowess.

While Barton isn’t the shooter Forbes is for his career (35.5% 3-point shooter on 3.7 attempts per game), he does have two things working in his favor over Forbes. One, his most recent shooting stretch was more promising (38% on 3.4 attempts per game). And two, he’s got a more expansive off-the-dribble game. So when teams try to run him off the line, he can take a couple of dribbles inside and make them pay from 2-point territory.

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