The New Orleans Pelicans are quickly losing traction in a loaded Western Conference. It is very debatable that they may not even be projected to make the playoffs next season. The league has changed drastically throughout the decades.
Think back to the last time a duo of big men experienced championship success as the best players on their respective team. You’d have to grab an NBA Timeline and trace it back to the 1999 San Antonio Spurs featuring the “Twin Towers” of David Robinson and Tim Duncan. The league has changed to the point where 6’8 small forwards that can do it all and great firepower in your backcourt wins you championships.
It’s not to say that this New Orleans Pelicans team can’t be successful but right now they are primed to enter the upcoming NBA season with a nearly identical roster. They are banking on the growing chemistry of the trio of DeMarcus Cousins - Anthony Davis - Jrue Holiday. They are lacking depth at the two or three, which will be needed to win ball games. They need wings because without wings this Pelicans team will not be able to rise to the occasion. It’s not enough to play through your bigs. Cousins and Davis are capable playmakers. Time to find some shooters that they can drive and kick or pass out of the post to. It’s a pace and space league. They are currently missing the latter.
Here are 5 signings that could benefit the New Orleans Pelicans going forward.
5. Shabazz Muhammad
At only 24 years of age, Muhammad has a great amount of potential to become a solid player in this league. Showed potential last year in spurts off the Minnesota Timberwolves bench. Though he is a career 32% shooter from the three-point line, his percentage from there rose to just about 34% this past season. No reason to think in a new system with new surroundings that Muhammad couldn’t flourish.
The former 2013 lottery pick showed flashes of great athleticism and offensive prowess. Two criteria that are key assets for any team to have a pace and space league. This past season, Muhammed averaged 9.9 ppg and 2.8 rpg on 48% shooting from the field in 19mpg off the pine. He has the long-term potential to have any fan in NOLA very excited going forward. Signing him could be a low risk, high reward move potentially.
4. Michael Beasley
It is no secret to any basketball fan that Michael Beasley has not lived to the stature of what a second overall pick commands. Players selected that high are meant to be franchise building blocks eventually. That never happened for Beasley. However, Beasley was able to revive his career after spending part of the 2015-16 season in China as a member of the Shandon Golden Stars. Since then, he has taken what he learned in China and matured. Beasley during the last two seasons with the Rockets and Bucks respectively has shown that he can be a scoring machine in limited play.
This past season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Beasley averaged 9.4 ppg and 3.4 rpg on 53% shooting overall including a deadly 41% from beyond the arc. Beasley is a shooter that can create his own shot or hit off of catch and shoot opportunities. Beasley is 28 years old and still in the prime of his career. I am not willing to make a bet that he is done making improvements to his game. The Pelicans could give Beasley a chance to contribute to something big like a possible deep playoff run. Whether as a sixth man or starting small forward, he could be a missing piece for the Pelicans.
3. Gerald Green
Gerald Green made a good size contribution on a Boston Celtics team that was the first seed in the East. During the season, whenever his number was called from Brad Stevens, Green answered the call. Green delivered multiple double-digit scoring outputs. At times, Green would come off the bench and take over games. Green’s jump shot is especially tricky to defend because he releases the ball so high up off the jump. During the season, Green shot 35% from beyond the arc. Nearly matching his career average of 36% from 3 point territory.
Those numbers actually rose in a deep playoff run with the Boston Celtics. During the playoffs, Green averaged 7.5 ppg on 47% shooting including 46% shooting from the perimeter. Gerald Green was a key factor in the Boston Celtics coming back against the Chicago Bulls when down 2-0. In Game 4, Green dropped a playoff career-high 18 points.
Green brings a nice shooting touch to match his competitive fire for the game. A great veteran that will deliver in whatever role the coach puts him in. Think its time the Pelicans go Green.
2. Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown is an NBA journeyman, whose career dates back to when he went undrafted in the 2007 draft. At 32 years of age, Brown brings a veteran presence and a great three point shot. This past season, Brown shot 40% from outside. That number rose in the playoffs to 45%. His career averages aren’t out there and incredible, but he would fill two critical needs on this roster.
He brings leadership to a young core and a killer jumper to help with the spacing. The free agent market is drying up fast to where you have to begin to think about gambling on experience. Over 10 years of professional experience makes Brown worth the gamble. His role on this team could be similar to James Jones’s role in Cleveland. A designated shooter. Someone that can get you buckets in short spurts.
1. Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis’s time spent with the Indiana Pacers did not help his value in this league. After two forgettable seasons in Indy, Ellis is looking for a club to get his career back on track. Before Indy, Ellis was always considered a fringe All-Star. At 31 years of age, there is still some fight left in Ellis. His prime is not over. Let’s make the 2017-18 season, the Monta Ellis comeback tour. The Pelicans need a scoring wing. Ellis needs a team willing to give him a last chance to redeem himself. Sounds like a good match to me. Ellis and Holiday could be a decent backcourt if all goes according to plan.
Ellis won’t satisfy the need of perimeter shooting but does give them a third or fourth scoring option to take pressure off of NOLA’s stars. Ellis actually became a better defender during his time with Indy. So, it wasn’t all bad. If Ellis can even become half of the player that he once was, then this will be a steal of a signing for the Pelicans. At this point, taking that gamble is their best option. Whether as a sixth man or starting guard, he could deliver big for the Pelicans.
The point I am trying to make with this article is the Pelicans have a desperate need for quality wing players. Whether it comes via trade or free agency, the Pelicans have to find them or risk being flightless this season. No flight, no fight, am I right?