Pelicans Scoop: Asik, Playoffs, and the Starters

Published: July 16, 2014

1. What excites you the most about the addition of Omer Asik?

Michael McNamara: The fact that we will get to see Anthony Davis freelance and roam more on the defensive end. Last season, he was always the last line of defense, so he had to stay disciplined and you knew that if he got beat, it was game over. Not anymore. Davis can hedge hard and go for steals, knowing Asik is behind him. He can leave his man and go for a swat, knowing Asik will be there to clean up the boards. Anthony Davis has just been given a pass to be ten times more aggressive as a defender, and that should scare the heck out of the other 29 teams in the league.

Mason Ginsberg: Apart from the unibrow defensive factor given above, I’m excited because, despite Asik possessing a limited offensive skill set, he should help the Pelicans’ offense from a team perspective. His ability to both protect the rim and rebound at an elite level will allow the team’s guards and even Anthony Davis/Ryan Anderson to get out and run more frequently in transition. The thought of Asik cleaning up the glass on the defensive end while Holiday, Evans, Davis, & Perimeter Shooter X run the floor is a massive upgrade from last season that I don’t think enough people around the NBA recognize.

Nick Lewellen: The match ups. Assuming we keep Ryan Anderson (and it looks like we will), we will have three very good big men. Better yet, between the three we will have pretty much every skill set you’d want. That means we can be more aggressive with our line ups. We won’t have to respond to what the other team is doing. They’ll have to respond to us. Ain’t it great to have options?

Jake Madison: I’m excited that Monty finally gets the defensive center he wants in his defensive system. I’m on the opposite of belief from Mason, as I think the Pelicans slow down and run a grind-it-out style of play. It may not be fun to watch but Asik should allow the Pelicans to get back to how they played in the first season under Monty. The style of play that featured a top 10 defense and a playoff spot.

James Grayson: Like everyone above there’s the whole defensive aspect to Asik’s game that really excites you. To add to this I’ll say that an aspect to Asik’s game that won’t get discussed is his pick and roll defense. He’s not necessarily fleet of foot, however he’s one of the best 7-footers at hedging on the pick and roll and this fits perfectly with what Monty wants to do. Add in the shot-blocking, rebounding and general Turkish delight-ness and there’s a lot to be excited about.

Michael PellissierAsik’s defensive/rebounding abilities are a perfect fit. Stops help you get out in transition and attack before the defense is set, and we haven’t been able to stop anyone for a couple years now. Look for Tyreke to get loose with Asik patrolling the paint. He also fixes our weak defensive rebounding, and our guards should no longer have to crash the boards to compensate for weak frontcourt rebounders. And AD can finally roam freely.


2. Who do you think starts games for the Pelicans this season? Who finishes them?

McNamara: I think Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Davis-Asik starts games, and on most nights Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Anderson-Davis finishes them. I believe there is a small chance that Salmons starts at SF and gets 15-20 minutes, allowing Tyreke to change the game off the bench, but the addition of Asik allows the Pelicans to go a little smaller on the wing, knowing they have the best defensive duo in the NBA behind them. Meanwhile, Anderson is just too deadly and opens up the offense too much to keep him off the floor at the end of the game. Rebounding might be a bit of a problem, but the Finishing Five will create more problems for the opposition than they will have themselves.

Ginsberg: Holiday-Gordon-Salmons-Davis-Asik, although I’d love to be wrong and see Evans replace Salmons in that lineup. Regardless, Evans and Anderson should both play twice as many minutes as Salmons, who will be in the game to fill the floor-spacing role that Morrow left. The closers will be the same “finishing five” as last season, although if games get particularly close in crunch time, don’t be surprised to see the Asik-for-Anderson defense-for-offense subs.

Lewellen: Holiday-Gordon-Salmons-Davis-Asik, and this is actually my preferred starting lineup. I’d rather have Evans and Ryno enter the game together, because last season they showed the makings of quite a dynamic duo. We could just destroy second units with those two guys featured. I agree with everyone else on the closers. I think the 5th closer (either Anderson or Asik) will depend entirely on what the team needs based off the opponent. Again, ain’t it great to have some good options?

Madison: Holiday-Gordon-Salmons-Davis-Asik, but I don’t think Salmons solely plays with that bunch. He should receive maybe around 20 minutes a game which allows a lot of flexibility when it comes to the core-player-lineups. Mason nailed the finishing five–especially the Asik for Anderson sub since Monty loves to go with offensive-defensive subs late in games.

Grayson: Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Davis-Asik to start and Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Anderson-Davis to finish. I mean it’s quite a standard response however I would expect things to be very fluid in terms of lineups. A lot will depend on matchups and who the Pelicans are actually playing so don’t expect Monty to be consistent with his starters and who he finishes with. As a wildcard don’t rule out Asik finishing games. Monty seems to have a love affair with centers and if Asik performs I wouldn’t rule him out from finishing games.

PellissierSame as many of the others: Holiday-Gordon-Salmons-Davis-Asik to start and Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Anderson-Davis to finish. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Evans start in place of Salmons either.


3. Where does the Davis-Asik-Anderson trio rank amongst NBA front line trios?

McNamara: Second. I think the Bulls trio of Noah/Gibson/Gasol is more proven, but if and when Anthony Davis takes another leap, I think the Pelicans rise to first. The fact that you can throw an elite offensive duo (Anderson/Davis) or an elite defensive duo (Davis/Asik) out there at any time and change the game is a coaches dream. The Anderson/Asik combo gives you a perfect blend of both, and the thought that at least two of those guys will be on the floor for every second of the game should give opposing teams nightmares.

Ginsberg: Great question here. Some of the best in my opinion, for some perspective: Griffin/Jordan/Hawes, Gibson/Noah/Gasol, Nowitzki/Chandler/Wright, Love/Pekovic/Dieng, Randolph/Gasol/Koufos. First things first – there is not a more versatile 3-man front court combo than Davis/Asik/Anderson in regards to the ability to succeed at both ends of the court, and it’s not particularly close. If all I was worried about was winning a game tomorrow, I think I would take the Clippers’ trio by a hair, with the Pelicans’ coming in right behind them. By mid-season, though, it would not surprise me in the least if my answer changes to NOLA’s guys by a solid margin.

Lewellen: First, when everyone is healthy. I really like what the Bulls and Dallas have, but they don’t have the diversity or youth of our lineup. Sure, we will need Davis to take that next step, but his development so far has been off the charts. I don’t see any reason to think his rate of development dips below average this season. That means it will be a trio with a legit young superstar and two perfect compliments. Who else has that?

Madison: I wanted to say second or third but then I really looked at it and I have to say first. The Bulls snagging Gasol is a great move, but he shouldn’t be playing 36 minutes a night anymore. The Clippers have a strong trio but Jordan’s abysmal free throw shooting knocks them down some. But pairing elite defense with scoring versatility sets the Pelicans ahead of everyone.

Grayson: Being a homer I’ll say first, but there are a lot of good front lines around the league. For the sake of it my top front lines in the league are as follows: One, Pelicans (Davis, Anderson, Asik). Two, Chicago (Noah, Gibson, Gasol). Three, Minnesota (Love/Pekovic/Dieng). Four, Detroit (Drummond/Monroe/Smith). Five, Dallas (Nowitzki, Chandler, Wright).

PellissierNoah/Gibson/Gasol/Mirotic is the best frontcourt in the league, I think. I’m also a big fan of Gortat/Nene/Humphries, Dirk/Tyson/Wright, DJ/Hawes/Griffin, Horford/Millsap/Antic, and of course Duncan/Diaw/Splitter. Given my lofty expectations of Anthony Davis, I really think this could be the second or third best frontcourt in the league.

4. Is there one Western Conference playoff team that you feel confident in saying the Pelicans are better than? If so, who?

McNamara: The Grizzlies and the Trailblazers. Personally, I think that the Pelicans were better than both of these teams, when healthy, last year. Now, the Pelicans have added Asik, while the big additions for these two teams are Chris Kaman (Blazers) and Vince Carter (Grizzlies). Everything broke right injury wise for Portland last year, and while people felt so sorry for the Grizzlies for losing Marc Gasol last season, their key guys only missed 35 games total. The Pelicans would have killed for that. If all three teams have the same luck this season, the Pelicans are easily the best of that trio.

Ginsberg: The Pelicans’ posted an average scoring margin of +8 against the Grizzlies last season, so I have zero hesitation when saying that they’re better than Memphis, who basically have only swapped Ed Davis for Vince Carter so far this offseason. Apart from that, it’s tough to confidently say anything until the games start getting played; the Spurs, Thunder & Clippers will be at the top again, the Rockets still have James Harden & Dwight Howard, the Warriors are still ripe with talent, & the Mavericks added a couple of Chandlers (Tyson & Parsons). The only reasonable choice left would be the Trail Blazers, who experienced near-perfect health last season and could regress next season. That being said, I’m not ready (yet) to suggest that New Orleans is better than Portland, though it would not surprise me in the least.

Lewellen: We aren’t better than the Spurs, Thunder, or the Clippers. I’m not sure how to feel about the Rockets, given the way their offseason has gone so far. I could see that being a dysfunctional team in no time. The Warriors are probably still better than us. I’m not sure about Dallas. I’m leaning towards yes, but I want to see how Parsons works out. I’m confident we are better than Portland and Memphis, for all the reasons listed above.

Madison: Memphis. They haven’t done much this offseason to improve while the Pelicans have added a massive, key piece. Couple that with health and a next-level leap from Davis. Future is looking good.

Grayson: Seeing as the question asked for one I’ll have to go with the Rockets. They are a terrible defensive team and added Ariza while losing Parsons, Asik and Lin. Roster stability is something very few people value these days and Houston doesn’t have much of it recently. The Pelicans, when healthy are a much better team.

Pellissier: the Memphis Grizzlies. But honestly, better may not be as important as healthierEvery year, X teams struggle with major injuries en route to clinching or falling short of playoff spots. Portland was absurdly healthy last year and the Pelicans were absurdly unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean that this year fortunes will change. Given perfect health for everyone, I think the Pelicans are the 6th-9th best team in the West- after the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Mavericks, Warriors. I think we’re in the same tier as Portland, Memphis, and Houston.


5. What is your overall grade for the Pelicans offseason?

McNamara: An A. I said it on the podcast Sunday and I will stick with it. I know that the signing of John Salmons leaves a bit of a sour taste in some peoples’ mouths because it was the last move, and we always remember the most recent thing. But I like Salmons for the intangibles that he brings and think he is a better spot-up shooter than most people realize. But this summer isn’t about Salmons. It is about adding Asik while keeping our core and some nice fringe pieces as well. It’s about bringing in some new blood in Russ Smith and Patric Young – two proven winners who are incredibly hungry and fit the culture this organization is trying to build. Dell has pulled another rabbit out of his has by getting Asik. Now, it is time for Monty to coach them up.

Ginsberg: B+. You can whine about the Pelicans not being able to unload Eric Gordon’s contract, or you can be happy about what they were able to do despite having that contract on the books. I choose the latter, as New Orleans’ ability to add an elite defensive center while sacrificing zero players who figured to get minutes next season was truly remarkable. Jeff Duncan said it well yesterday morning: “The Pelicans went into the offseason with few resources at their disposal and have managed to add starting center Omer Asik and potentially three key reserves, combo forward Omri Casspi; rookie point guard Russ Smith and power forward Patric Young to the five-man core of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. Impressive work, Dell Demps.” (He notes that Casspi is likely to be waived & replaced with John Salmons.) Impressive work, indeed. If Asik can be extended for a reasonable price (ideally right after the Pelicans dump Gordon & add their long-term solution at SF next offseason), then this grade will retroactively jump to an A/A+.

Lewellen: A, and I’m not sure how it could be less. First, we acquire Asik. There was a cost, which many Dell Doubters are quick to point out. But if you’re going to point out the cost, acknowledge that there was a point in time, not even a year ago, when the cost was much higher. Maybe it wasn’t as high as 2 first rounders, like some reports suggested. Still, it was higher. And sure, Salmons isn’t a sexy signing, but he fits a role. If you consider all the possible outcomes for the Pelicans’ offseason before the offseason started, this is one of the best. So Dell gets a high grade in my book.

Madison: It’s a B+ right now. The Asik move to me is an A- but the lack of movement on Gordon is what drags the grade now. But if the team makes the playoffs and actually keeps the first round pick which was sent to the Rockets? Well, that would certainly boost it up!

Grayson: A-, personally I never saw how Gordon could’ve been traded and the only thing that is holding me back from an A is finding a solid small-forward option as I don’t think Salmons is ideal. For Dell Demps and his staff it would of been tough to ask to find better talent with the position his roster was in. Overall, very pleased and fans should be excited when this team finally gets healthy and stays on the court for a sustained period of time.

Pellissier: B+. I love the Asik addition, but we’re still short a small forward that we can depend on for major minutes. I realize that there is time to add that for the future, but as of right now, the Pelicans walk into the season without a solid contributor at that position (though I’m happy with Salmons playing a role). Losing Morrow and Smith hurts, but they can be replaced. I’m just glad Dell was able to add Asik without throwing away any other of our key contributors. It was a solid offseason by all accounts.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.