Thanksgiving Scoop

You’ll have to see how the answers turn out, but here are some upward-pointing questions in advance of Thanksgiving.

1. Holiday is back. Are the New Orleans Pelicans now equipped to win “today” against at least half of the NBA a 0.500 or better rate? How about with Evans coming back?

42: I think that’s about right. None of us know what the Trade Fairy or St. Nicked Up will bring to teams during the rest of the season, but the Pelicans are set up to beat bad teams most of the time while consistently losing to the best of teams. If Evans can fit in, I think they are better. That’s a big “if” if he plays a good bit with Davis. If they overlap for, say, 10 minutes, I think he’ll be a net positive. Play Evans 20 minutes ish for his own good, viola! I’ve always like the idea of a unit that is “Tyreke: Kill,” with guys around to mop up as the second unit.

Michael Pellissier: With Holiday back, I’d say .500 is a reasonable expectation.  Through 2 games, it is abundantly clear that the Pelicans offense is drastically different with a guard capable of creating his own shot.  As much as I don’t like Tyreke long-term, adding him to the second unit also helps.  I am hoping against hope that Jrue is bumped to the starting unit and Tyreke is not.  Davis has traditionally deferred to Tyreke and he shouldn’t, but I am more than happy to see Tyreke given the green light on the second unit.

Jame Madison: I pretty much agree with what Jason said. With Holiday back the Pelicans finally have a bit of scoring consistency other than Anthony Davis. That should be enough, assuming, you know, health, to be teams like the Magic and other sub .500 teams but not necessarily enough to be knocking off teams like the Clippers, Cavs, or Warriors. Certainly the Pelicans will have a few surprise wins, but it will be balanced out by a few surprise losses. .500 should be reasonable.

2. Buddy Hield is not living up to the expectations of some. How do you feel about the rookie? How do you feel about how the team is handling him?

42: I’m pretty happy, actually. I’m really not worried about expectations; I’m worried about performance. Hield has the expected struggles, but he shows some mental toughness, a good attitude, and improvement. I liked the commitment that the team showed to him early, and I hope they give him little runs with 15-20 minutes per game here and there after he has some time to watch from the bench more in between. Patience and a willingness to let him constructively fail . . . these are things fans and critics were screaming for. If those people are now screaming about it, they are just screamers.

MP: Buddy is adjusting to NBA length/quickness and has experienced a radical role switch.  In his senior year, he was given autonomy to shoot whenever he wanted.  What we are seeing is someone finding a conscience for “is this a good shot?”  These things take time.  I’m fine with where Buddy is right now and I’d like to make sure he doesn’t get buried on the bench, which is why I want a lot of 3 guard lineups once Tyreke comes back.  The shooting will come.

JM: I wasn’t expecting Buddy to come into the NBA right away and start lighting it up. His deep shot isn’t falling as I expected, but he has shown the ability to get to the rim enough that I’m less worried about some of the things I saw in Summer League. It’s tough to say how the team is handling him since we don’t see what’s going on in practice. His minutes in games will fluctuate, but far more important is the developmental work being done with coaches outside of games.

3. Cheick Diallo may be the first real commitment the team has made to a player going down to the D-League. What are your thoughts on any aspect of this?

42: A player with real upside is valuable, and the more upside, the more valuable. As such, the more someone might want to send someone to the D-League, the harder it is to do because you want to protect that value and keep it close. The key to breaking that tension is good management. The Pelicans have been building a business, and they have clearly not been capable of handling all the things they needed to handle, planned and unplanned, and truly get enough value from a player getting D-League minutes while being exposed to injury risk. While frustrated at the lack of this option before, I’m happy they are comfortable doing it now. We know a D-League team is on the horizon, and this should be viewed as on step on that journey as well.

MP: Diallo wasn’t going to be ready to contribute this year, so I’m fully on board with him carving out time in the D-League.  Don’t know what else to say about that.

JM: He’s a raw prospect who needs to play, makes mistakes, and figure somethings out. The D-League is perfect for him right now. The Pelicans have also sent a coach to work with him while he’s down there so the team is still controlling his development. Nice to see the team using the D-League in a useful manner.

4. Tim Frazier is a great story, and a good contract. What’s the role on the team that puts him in the best position to succeed? Is that best for the team?

42: Frazier needs to play on the second unit, or at best as the third guard in a 3 guard lineup because of his defensive limitations. At least for now, the simplest of decent screens eliminates him completely as a defensive threat for more than enough time for a decent guard to hoist up a shot or turn to the basket and get up a head of steam. With other guards, he can guard people off the ball; one the second unit, it’s all at a lower level. I think this serves him and the team well.

MP: As Jason mentions, Frazier’s physical profile will always prevent him from being good at fighting through screens, and it will also make defensive switches easy to exploit.  On Twitter, I argued that he should remain in the starting unit, simply because I like Buddy/Galloway next to Tyreke and I think it behooves Jrue to have someone else to share ball-handling duties for spells.  I think Moore is best suited for a role where he’s filling in gaps (defense, miscellaneous) and shooting, so I advocate for Frazier-Jrue-Moore-Davis-Asik to start.  This is more about what we have than what Frazier is meant for, as he is clearly a backup in an ideal world, albeit a good one.

JM: Jason summed this up well. Frazier helped hold the fort down while Holiday was out, but now his natural role is leading the second unit–or potentially being the third point guard. Frazier has limitations on defense, and more obviously on offense as he just isn’t capable of running a strong pick and roll game. Put him in a lineup with more shooting (think, Hield, Galloway, Jones, Hill, or some combination) and he can drive and kick. He should succeed there much more so than going against starter-caliber players.

5. After the team went with Stephenson over Gee or other min-type free agents, Stephenson’s injury forced the team to start its signature churn through available min-type free agents, which has served them well. The Goodwin era came and went, and now the Brown era has started. We know Stephenson is still connected to the team, but set that aside for the moment. Do you like this practice? Is there a guy you want them to go get now and develop?

42: I love it. There are many ways to get nice young players, and this is a low risk, higher-than-low-reward maneuver. The team can generate bench players, trade assets, and a reputation among players as a place to go, at least in certain player market segments. I personally don’t care who they sign, as I see these guys, mostly, as contracts that play. For the most part, I see them as trade facilitators first and second, everything else third. That said, constantly checking to see if some gold is in the pile of pyrite may pay off one day. Might as well try.

MP: I understood the idea of the Goodwin signing (athleticism, penetration, long-term “potential” *rolls eyes*), but I said Goodwin was bad before he stepped on the court and he did his best to prove me right.  I want guys with high IQs and enough skills to make some contribution right now — Goodwin fits neither description.  Brown could absolutely be that kind of guy, so I am fully on board.  At the moment, the strategy should be to find guys who can contribute now and grow into role players.  When we’re good enough, maybe then we can swing for the fences and bring in someone to develop over time.

JM: This approach helped the team land Frazier and Ennis last season. That certainly is a good thing. This is an end of the roster player and they are largely interchangeable. So keep changing until one stands out and the Pelicans think he can be a season-long piece.

2 responses to “Thanksgiving Scoop”

  1. I’m hoping the suggestions with Tyreke and Frazier that seem obvious to these guys are as obvious to Gentry.
    Davis is playing on another plane of existence at the moment, and we don’t need Evans’ brand of low IQ bball anywhere near that next step AD is taking this year.
    Frazier will be really intriguing. I’m not sure if that 3 guard line up can work consistently. Moore is not a good rebounder, though Holiday and Frazier aren’t bad and could push off misses. That’s a ton of size to eat though.

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