Game On: Pelicans @ Wizards

Published: February 23, 2016

Fresh off of the best performance of Anthony Davis’ young career, the Pelicans head to Washington DC to take on the Wizards. New Orleans got the best of Washington in the two team’s prior meeting this season, winning 107-105 at the Smoothie King Center. Of course, it also bears mentioning that the Pelicans rolled out a largely healthy squad with the exception of an ill Ryan Anderson for that game. In particular, they actually thrived going super small, as their guard-heavy lineup of Ish Smith, Holiday, Gordon, Evans, and Davis gave the Wizards real trouble. What isn’t surprising is how badly they played without AD on the floor, getting outscored by more than a point per minute in his ~9 minutes of rest:

vs WAS

While the Pelicans were +13 in Davis’ ~39 minutes, this Wizards team isn’t quite the same as the one that New Orleans faced off against back in December. First of all, they have Bradley Beal back, who has been providing some nice scoring punch in their 6th man role as of late. Additionally, Washington was one of the more active teams at the trade deadline, deciding to take a chance on troubled forward Markieff Morris in exchange for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, and a top-9 protected 2016 first round draft pick. If you’re a believer that Morris will behave himself moving forward, then the trade makes a lot of sense for the Wizards, as Morris has shown the ability to make a very positive impact on the court and is on a very reasonable contract moving forward. If you are more of the opinion that he will continue to get into trouble, then giving up what will likely be a mid-first round pick is much more questionable.

For the time being, this Wizards team looks better than their record on paper. A primary unit of Wall-Beal-Dudley-Morris-Gortat (though not all are starters at the moment) with Sessions-Temple-Porter-Nene behind them looks both solid and deep, even if it’s not a team that can make a deep postseason run. The short-handed Pelicans will have their work cut out for them, especially the second unit. With Omer Asik out due to a sprained ankle, New Orleans will have to rely on a primary rotation of something like Holiday, Dejean-Jones, Cunningham, Anderson, and Davis, with Cole-Douglas-Gee-Ajinca filling out the rest of the minutes. Apart from AD, it’s hard to point to any other positional advantage for the Pels.

Of course, if Anthony Davis goes out and scores another 60 points or so again tonight, then nothing else may end up mattering. Enjoy the game!

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