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Gauging the New Orleans Pelicans least valuable player

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Which Pelican will be the biggest disappointment?

Kevin BarriosDante Cunningham will turn in a lackluster performance. He won't fill out the SF spot adequately enough during the Pondexter absence, but it will open the door for Luke Babbitt to shine in an offensive system that doesn't ignore it's best shooter.

Chris CucchiaraThis hurts me to type this (because he is my second favorite Pelican) but I can see Jrue Holiday being the biggest disappointment.  Either the fans are disappointed because the Pels need him to play more because of other injuries and he can't because of his minutes restriction, or he does play more and he gets hurt.  What makes this even more painful is that Jrue could really flourish in Gentry's system... if he could get his injuries under control. I hope I am wrong.

Jay DunnAlexei Ajinca. I have a sneaky suspicion that his improvement last year was a contract-year fluke. Hopefully I'm wrong, but he isn't a good enough of a defender nor rebounder to justify his presence on the court. Additionally, he may be too slow to make a significant impact in the Pelicans uptempo offense.

Peyton FineRyan Anderson.  I'm sorry in advance for this because I really want to get behind this guy. I believe that he is in better physical shape than last year. However, last year, my problem with him was he failed to make shots, and that seemingly has carried over to the preseason. He is shooting a woeful 30% from the field and is only 37% from 3. For him to be an asset for this team and cover up his defensive deficiencies, those numbers need to be elite, and they are currently nowhere close. If there is one thing that leaves me hopeful that I am wrong, it is the lineups he has spent much of the season playing with. He has been playing with little talent around him and has been asked to carry the scoring load. That simply won't be the case come October 27th.

David FisherQuincy Pondexter is going to be a solid player. He'll knock down some threes and play solid defense. However, his stroke from last spring will be unsustainable and Q-Pon will shoot a more reasonable percentage (36%-ish) behind the arc. Get ready for renewed calls to "fix" the small forward position next summer.

Kyle GahaganMy gut tells me that Ryan Anderson will be the biggest disappointment. His style of play doesn't fit with where Gentry's team have excelled in the past. Fast break, pick-and-pop, shortened shot clocks. Ryno needs some time and space, but may find himself contributing more near the paint than anywhere else. Prove me wrong, sir!

Jonny HarveyI don’t expect any huge disappointment, but I don’t think the combination of Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and Kendrick Perkins will stand strong against the stout centers in the West. To say Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Tim Duncan and even Andrew Bogut are mismatches for the Pellies would be quite the understatement, which makes Ryan Anderson’s role in small ball lineups all the more intriguing.

Quentin HaynesOmer Asik. He didn't play well unless he was next to Davis. Right now, you can't play Asik and Anderson together because the twosome have yet found a way to make it work. At this moment and time, I think Asik is an odd fit moving forward. Ideally, one needs a bit more from their center in Gentry's offense, at least possess the ability to hit a jumper every once in a while. Not to mention, his defensive numbers did not live up to his reputation. The Pelicans went all in by bringing everyone back, but I wasn't a fan of Asik for four-five seasons and as a fit in Gentry's new offense. I'm afraid it will show.

Zachary JundaMaybe I'm overthinking this too much, especially since he's never been an offensive threat, but is anyone else worried Dante Cunningham might get left behind in Gentry's system? I'm not saying he can't do what Gentry wants, but, like Austin Powers said "that's not my bag, baby." It's not Cunningham's fault either, I'm just unfairly comparing him to Andre Iguodala's Finals performance and I don't think he can be our version of that. I feel like Cunningham will be left out this year, like that Office episode where Michael tells us about how he got a rash on his birthday, and while all the other kids got to ride a pony, he had to get cream rubbed on him by his mom.

Oleh Kosel: Each individual on the roster has their given role and initially seem adept to fill it. Where things have a chance of going haywire is when someone will be asked to do too much, ie. reserve players asked to fill in for their larger minute counterparts. Hence, I'm fearful of Dante Cunningham spending too much time at the small forward while Quincy Pondexter is on the mend. DC is the ultimate glue guy and a versatile defender, but on an Alvin Gentry-led team, his faults will be magnified: quick decision-making, ball-handling and perimeter shooting. As evidenced by a lower FGA per 36 minutes than even Kendrick Perkins this preseason, I envision defenses will quickly learn to ignore him and it will ultimately hurt the Pelicans.