The decimated Pelicans are in Oklahoma City today to face the formidable Thunder. While the entire league gripes about injuries to finish the season, say Golden State without David Lee or Houston without Dwight Howard, New Orleans has been dealing with this headache for practically the entire year. And now, no one can claim they've got a better collective group of talent in suits: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith.
With the latest casualties, Dell Demps is expected to sign James Southerland to add another healthy body to the remaining 10 players standing. Southerland is a 6'8'' shooting forward out of Syracuse who spend the vast part of the year playing in the D-League. He drew some interest earlier in the season but was never able to find a permanent home. In 42 games, Southerland averaged 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 three's and nearly 1 block/steal a game. Reputably, he is excellent on catch and shoot situations but he only managed a 32.3 3FG% out of 201 attempts for the Los Angeles D-Fenders. One can hope for a diamond in the rough, but I'd advise to expect nothing. At the very least, it shows Demps is on top of our roster needs for next year, a lengthy wing who demands respect from the outside.
3 Things to Watch:
- Kevin Durant from deep. In 5 games this month, KD is shooting a laughable 27% from three. He's due and will likely be looking to get everything in order before the start of the playoffs. Do the Pelicans have any kind of prayer on offering some resistance?
- Bench battle. In the last 10 games, New Orleans has had the most dominant bench in the league, but on the year, OKC has been a notch better. With Russell Westbrook back, Reggie Jackson helps give their reserves a little more oomph.
- Living without Anthony Davis. When Davis sits, the Pelicans still find ways to score (1.091 PPP) but the defense completely falls apart (1.182 PPP allowed). Against the Suns, Monty Williams started Al-Farouq Aminu at the four, however, it didn't work out. Will Aminu get the start against Serge Ibaka or does Monty get creative and defend him with more size, say Jeff Withey?