Pelicans Scoop: Needs

Published: November 23, 2018

18 games in – what do you categorize as the Pelicans’ biggest position of need?


Shamit – With news that Elfrid Payton is now out for 6 weeks, the Pelicans need a solution on the ball handling front. Currently Jrue Holiday is the sole player who can consistently apply pressure on defenses with his drives and is currently attacking the paint with the 2nd highest frequency in the league. The shortage of ball handlers and playmakers has led to frequent turnover issues and increased playmaking responsibilities for guys like Moore and Davis. Jrue has done a phenomenal job thus far, but the Pelicans would do well to secure him some help on the bench. There is one caveat – don’t make a move that will impact the rest of your season or more for an injury that will last 6 weeks. Hold on to your assets for the bigger trade. 


Michael Pellissier – Perimeter depth in some capacity.  Ideally, it’d be a swingman who can defend positions 1-4, handle the ball some, and knock down 3s, but ultimately, the Pelicans are just very shallow on the perimeter period.  The defense is the current problem and it might be fixable without major changes, as the Pels were 6th in defensive PPP after Cousins went down last season.. but the Pelicans are one more serious perimeter injury from plummeting in offensive rating, so I’m happy with any perimeter value, whether it’s someone to knock down shots, provide extra ball-handling, or provide some much needed defensive flexibility.


Mason Ginsberg –  To me, point guard depth slightly edges out wing depth given the recent Payton injury news. Ian Clark is a fine 4th guard, but he’s not a guy who can lead bench units, nor is Frank Jackson ready for that responsibility. The Pels hoped that Tim Frazier could fill that void, but it hasn’t worked out so far. The Pels need a guy who they can consistently turn to while Jrue is off the floor to keep the bench afloat and also help to keep Jrue’s minutes down when possible. That said, I align with Shamit in the sense that I’m not trying to move more than a 2nd round pick (at most) for that kind of help.       


Ryan H – I think the Pelicans needs are largely the same before and after the Elfrid Payton injury, they need players that can handle the ball, hit a 3, and play decent defense. They rank 17th in turnovers a game, and 16 in 3pt %, ideally you want to improve in those areas. Overall defense needs improved, they’re giving up 113.7 points per 100 possessions, per cleaning the glass, although defensive rotations have looked much better as of late and guys are not getting lost as much in schemes. Ideally any trade you make the player should check two of those three boxes.


Jesse – I feel like emotions are high with everyone anticipating what Anthony Davis will do regarding the future of the franchise. However, if someone told me that in the offseason they were going to predict that the Pelicans would be in the 8th spot with a 9-7 overall record after the first 15 games, I would say that would be a very realistic prediction. With 67 games left to go, I still feel it’s pretty early for a plethora of NBA hot takes.

Yet, the injury problems persist. We saw the Pels struggle with and without a banged up AD, and starting point guard Elfrid Payton may miss up to six weeks with a broken finger after missing about a month with an ankle injury. Does this roster have enough to overcome when its cornerstones aren’t 100 percent?

With or without Payton in the lineup, I’ve long felt this team has a void in the point guard position. Julius Randle is a tremendous talent coming off the bench, but there’s a large drop off from there and I wonder if his game could be elevated more if there was a veteran upgrade at the one in the reserve unit. Tim Frazier in his second stint as a Pel, has become a defense liability and the value of his distribution skills is not worth his inability to provide anything else on the offense end. Frank Jackson has shown ability to contribute as a scorer, but mistakes in bringing the ball up the floor has resulted in costly turnovers. With no point guard presence, the reserve unit often kills pace and resorts to bad iso.

Now that Payton will be gone for an extended period of time, the need for another point guard has gone up significantly. Maybe that also means the Pels need to aim at a higher talent level to fill the floor general role then they normally would.

42 – I don’t really like talking about positions, especially on this team, but I’ll say “combo guard,” if I’m allowed to specify one that is big and can handle the ball and pass. If not, I’ll say “point guard” and just say “aim for a big one.” My answer is more in the context of adding rotation piece, not making a seismic change to the roster. I think people make waaay too big a deal about “small forwards.” I’ve been on the passing kick for a while, and you see why. Payton’s injury does not change the equation for me. Rather, it confirms my analysis.


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