Predicting the Pelicans Opening Night Rotation

Published: September 23, 2016

And it’s time for our annual prediction of the rotations the Pelicans will put out on the floor on opening night.  As usual, the team is already dealing with some uncertainty about the personnel it will have available.  Also, as usual, I’m not just going to assign minutes to players – because that’s kinda dumb.  Instead, I’m going to predict when players will step on and off the floor – and then total up the resulting minutes.  Exciting, yes?

My basic assumptions before we get to the rotation:

  • Tyreke Evans isn’t going to be playing opening night.
  • Neither is Jrue Holiday
  • You will see “JCD” on my list – who is probably a player you have never heard of.  That’s because I expect ONE of Jones, Cunningham or Diallo to win the opening night battle of the third string power forward.  Right now, I think it will be Cunningham, but for now, I’ll just refer to those minutes as going to JCD.
  • The same is true to third-string Small Forward.  I will have GS on the board.  It’s either Gee or Stephenson, based on who survives training camp.

I will, of course, update these when we get closer to real games, but for now, my predicted Rotation!

Starting Line-up

Tim Frazier – Buddy Hield – Solomon Hill – Anthony Davis – Omer Asik

That’s right.  I think Hield will start.  I firmly believe this team will give him every opportunity to live up to being the 6th pick of the draft.  It also simplifies rotations since Moore is going to need to play backup point guard.

Six Minutes in, 1st Quarter

Tim Frazier – Langston Galloway – Quincy Pondexter – Solomon Hill – Anthony Davis

Essentially Galloway checks in for the rookie, and Q-pon lets Asik sit down.  The team goes small and has it’s (probably)most athletic crew on the floor.  Provided Pondexter’s knee is alright.

9 Minutes in, 1st Quarter

E’Twaun Moore – Langston Galloway – Quincy Pondexter – Solomon Hill – Alexis Ajinca

Hill finishes out the entire first quarter while Moore gives Frazier his first rest and Ajinca lets Davis take a breather.  This line-up will be fascinating to see who ends up as the primary penetrator.  Normally, this would be Fraziers time, after Jrue sat down.  Come back soon, Jrue!

2nd Quarter Starting Line-up

E’Twaun Moore – Langston Galloway – GS – JDC – Asik

The third string forwards hit the floor as the team tries to lock up everyone and win these three minutes 4 points to 2.  Stephenson could be interesting here as a primary option.  or Jones.

2nd Quarter, 3 minutes in

Tim Frazier – E’Twaun Moore – GS – JDC – Davis

Davis re-enters the game with Frazier, replacing Asik and Galloway.  Offense returns.

2nd Quarter, 6 minutes in

Tim Frazier – Buddy Hield – Quincy Pondexter – Solomon Hill – Anthony Davis

The starters, sans Asik, plus Q-Pon, blast their way to the finish.  This is carrot time for Buddy.  If he played well in his first stint, he gets these 6 minutes.  If not, Moore or Galloway get these minutes, depending on who is playing/matching up better.

3rd Quarter Starting Line-Up

Tim Frazier – Buddy Hield – Solomon Hill – Anthony Davis – Omer Asik

Same starting line-up as the beginning of the game.  Unless Gentry is mad at Asik.  Then Ajinca will play.  Unless Gentry is mad at Ajinca, in which case, JDC will be hanging out in the middle.

Third Quarter, 6 minutes in

E’Twaun Moore – Buddy Hield – Quincy Pondexter – Solomon Hill – Anthony Davis

Moore comes in so Frazier gets an early blow and can be ready to roll in the fourth.  Hield gets more carrot time if he’s played well for the first 6 minutes.  Q-Pon gets Asik off the floor, and he and Hill try to play shutdown defense on the wings.

Third Quarter, 9 minutes in

E’Twaun Moore – Langston Galloway – Quincy Pondexter – Solomon Hill – Alexis Ajinca

Davis starts his final rest period while Ajinca tries to spot up around Moore and Galloway doing their best to penetrate.  Luckily, they’ll be going against a second unit here.

4th Quarter Starting Line-up

Langston Galloway – Buddy Hield – GS – JDC – Asik

BUDDY TIME!  3 Minutes of Buddy Time, while the rest of the team defends their butt off!

4th Quarter, 3 minutes in

Tim Frazier – Langston Galloway – GS – JDC – Anthony Davis

Buddy sits down, breathing hard.  Galloway swings off ball, and Frazier and Davis get the offense out of stagnation.

4th Quarter, Finishing Five

Tim Frazier – E’Twaun Moore – Quincy Pondexter -Solomon Hill – Anthony Davis

Moore and Pondexter come in to provide shooting, Hill provides defense and dynamism from the power forward slot, and Davis and Frazier run a mean Pick and Roll.  Everyone defends (except Frazier, who is probably the weak link on that end.  Get better soon Jrue!)

Total Minutes

The rotation above ends with players getting the following minutes:

  • Anthony Davis, 36 min
  • Solomon Hill, 36 min
  • Tim Frazier, 33 min
  • Quincy Pondexter, 24 min
  • Buddy Hield, 24 min
  • E’Twaun Moore, 21 min
  • Omer Asik, 18 min
  • Langston Galloway, 18 min
  • JDC, 12 min
  • GS, 12 min
  • Alexis Ajinca, 6 min

That allows Pondexter to abide by a minutes limit. It also gives Hield plenty of playing time to develop – but with Moore and Galloway on hand to push him if he’s screwing up.  Davis plays all of 12 minutes at power forward, continuing his move to the middle.

What do you think?  Comfortable with that rotation?  Any line-ups you terrified by?


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