A Roll of The Dice

Settlers of Catan is a board game that involves both a strategical set up and the luck of the dice. To build the best colony, one has to build not only on the right resources, but also on the most abundant ones (this is determined by the roll of dice). Whenever a number is rolled, you pick up its corresponding resource if you have a settlement on it. Last time I played I had a good set up, there is no denying that. I built my first settlement on the numbers 6,5, and 9, which corresponded to 2 resources of ore and 1 of wheat. I built my second on an 8 and a 4 (wood and brick), and a 3-for-1 Port, where you can trade for any resource you need. The wheat and ore were perfect for building cities, the wood and brick perfect for roads. On top of that, my numbers were favorable as far as a pair of dice are concerned. The only problem was that in the first 12 rolls I only got 1 resource and robbed 3 times.

For those of you who don’t know, a roll of 7 means robber. Anytime a player rolls a 7, they can move the robber onto any resource, blocking you from getting it. They can also steal one of the resources you have already picked up.

So not only was I just not getting ANY rolls, the other players were moving the robber back and forth on my settlements, laughing as they stole from me and blocked me from what I need. I had to angrily sit there, cursing my luck while waiting for it to change, thinking about how big a waste of time the next 30 minutes would be just to come 3 points short all because of an unlucky start. With each roll of the dice I began to think that it was fated to happen that way. Less and less I looked for ways to win because it wasn’t going to happen anyway because it just wasn’t meant to. And more and more I started to watch the game on tv instead of paying attention. Then I started to compound my bad start with mis-haps because I wasn’t really tuned in. Whatever, it was over to begin with, just a bunch of bad rolls.

Then it occurred to me, The Pelicans season so far is like a really frustrating board game. More than that, many of their games and even their whole rebuild can be compared to a really frustrating board game based on chance.

Recently there is a trend of the Pelicans actually having good starts, setting themselves up with a chance to win in the second half. But then they can’t quite get it going, can’t get their shots to roll in, and can’t get the calls. It seems they just can’t get what they need. Then they start to have break downs, and after that, well, they fall short.

Each game seems like that, a roll of the dice. Some we start hot, some we start cold, some we mount comebacks, and some we give them up, but they always seem to go against us in the end. Not only that, but some games turn out to be more of a loss than just a loss–we lose players. Not only are we not getting the ones we need back from injury, but our healthy ones are being taken from us as well, almost like a cruel joke. How can you compete like that? Just so ridiculously unlucky with injuries, it is almost absurd. No other team has gone through this. How long into the season can we miss on picking up wins before it becomes too much to come back from? 44 wins in 70 games to get to where we were last year. That’s a lot of catching up.

With the expectations of the team I’m not sure what will happen should the Pelicans miss the playoffs. Dell Demps had a good set up, there is no denying that. He put together what looked like a sure-fire playoff team, but things just didn’t go his way. No fault of his own, just the only thing that would have worked would have been NOT choosing this set up. Not because it was a bad idea but just because it didn’t work out. We never even got to see what it could have been. Just some ridiculously bad rolls.

The thing is this isn’t the Pelicans team he put together, it is some twisted, fake image of the real roster. It was supposed to be better than this. In my game, with numbers like 4,5,6,8, and 9, you would think some things would have gone my way, those are good numbers, but nothing. Those numbers kept getting blocked. With guys like Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans you would have thought the Pels would be better than 1-11, but no. Ish Smith, Toney Douglas, these guys are being asked to carry the hopes of multiple years of building, when they’ve only been on the team for what, weeks? They weren’t brought in for this. Babbitt, Cunningham, Gee, these guys are being asked to carry a load that would normally be carried by guys 5 or 10 times their pay grade, they aren’t qualified for this.

There is no analyzing or number crunching or film watching that will reveal one or two things this team can fix to help it get a win and get things on track. In the picture at the top of the page, that group of players in the red would finish with the worst record in the NBA easily. And the thing is, you aren’t even getting all the players in blue to take minutes away from the red. You are only getting 3.75 of them (.5 being Jrue and .25 being Omer). It is absolutely crazy. And right when Davis starts to look more like himself HE goes down injured. He was about to build a city but then he got robbed, another 7 rolled, injured, out with a hurt shoulder. When will this run of luck end and the real game, the real season begin?

The Pelicans had more people return this season from last season than any other team in the league, but 12 games in we have seen a team that looks nothing like last year’s. There is still hope, as long as you believe the season still rests in the hands of its core. If you refuse to believe the season is decided by a bunch of role players in the first month of the season, then there is always hope. The Pels would have to win 44 out of their next 70 to get to where they were last season (62.85 W%). Before this season started people believed the Pels would finish the season either between 45-50 wins (54.87-60.97 W%) with 8-7 seed, or between 50-55 wins (60.97-67.07 W%) with the 7-6 seed. If the Pels manage to meet the expectations of their more confident supporters, they still have a good chance at the Playoffs despite the poor start. There is still time to turn this season around, but how large is that window? If New Orleans loses their next 5 games before any one returns from injury (which is a definite possibility), they’d have to win 44 out of 65, a 67.69 W%, just to get to 45 wins. Now the Pels have a much easier finish to the season than start, but that’s pushing it. If that red team up there can’t figure out how to get another win or two in the first month of the season then that blue team is really gonna have to exceed expectations. Otherwise they’ll be like, watching tv while others play.

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