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James Southerland, Flying Under the Radar?


Last April, there was little fanfare surrounding the Pelicans signing of James Southerland to a 10 day contract. The Pelicans had just lost Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon and the injury depleted roster needed replenishing to handle the final four games of the season. Moreover, in his 27 minutes of play (didn't even appear in the final game of the season), he did little to distinguish himself. His first game against the Thunder was easily his best, posting 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 three's.

Many fans probably figured that would be the last time they'd hear of him in the Big Easy. But, quietly, that hasn't been the case. For Pelicans Day, a local promotion by New Orleans AAA baseball team, the organization was represented by Alexis Ajinca, Monty Williams and James Southerland.

Then, we've recently learned he's been practicing with the team for a good chuck of the off-season.

He had just returned home to New York after spending a month in New Orleans, working out with a Pelicans organization that made him a late-season addition to their 2013-14 roster.

Now, he is slated to play with the Pelicans Summer League team starting later this week. Is it possible, especially with a good showing Las Vegas, Southerland has a legitimate chance on making the 2014-15 roster?

Who is he?

In a nutshell, he's a shooter and considered average elsewhere. From DraftExpress:

Looking forward, Southerland's shooting ability combined with decent physical tools should yield him plenty of chances to find a spot in the NBA initially and down the road, but questions about what position he will play, how effective a defender he'll be, and what else he can contribute when his shot isn't falling could be difficult to overcome. Doing the best he can to improve his physical tools, rebounding, and defense should be his priorities in the pre-draft process, and the rest will likely be dependent on whether he can find himself in a situation with a team that can take advantage of his particular skills.

Here are some highlights of his play while playing for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League.

He Makes Some Sense

James Southerland is most likely Demps' plan C or D option. However, if the Pelicans are unable to clear the cap space they'd like to go after the bigger name free agents and/or players like Darius Miller and Anthony Morrow are snatched up by other teams, Southerland could be a genuine option. As it currently stands, the Pelicans are in dire need of perimeter shooters on the wings.

During the upcoming Summer League, it'll be easy for him to get lost in the shuffle amid the more well-known Pelicans, Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca, the newest member of the team, Russ Smith or even draft-day snub, Patric Young, but do yourself a favor and keep an eye on him. If he's knocking down shots, he might end up seeing time at shooting forward, at some point next season. According to him, he's precisely what the doctor ordered.

"That's the one aspect of my game that they like a lot — they need guys who can shoot and spread the floor. And they can see other aspects of my game that they like, too," he said. "I'm trying to do anything that I can. They like guys that play with energy, guys that do the little things. Guys that can do a lot of little things and can hit big shots — that helps a lot. It's hard to find shooters that are versatile. I'm tall and I can play multiple positions, so that also helps."