Since the start of training camp in late September, the Pelicans have looked at a number of different players to fill the end of their roster. Specifically, Dell Demps has awarded 9 unguaranteed contracts to the following players: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Sean Kilpatrick, Corey Webster, Jeff Adrien, Jerome Jordan, Mirza Begic, Nate Robinson and Bo McCalebb.
At the outset of the exhibition season, the Pelicans roster appeared to have a need for a perimeter-orientated off guard and a small ball big who wouldn't compromise the team's rebounding. However, with the onset of a wide array of injuries, the focus shifted to other positions.
After Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca went down, New Orleans had an interest to find more girth at the center position. With Kendrick Perkins as the only alternative, Jordan and Begic were brought in. Not days later, though, the team lost two important rotation players in Norris Cole and Tyreke Evans. With Jrue Holiday on a strict minutes restriction and news that Asik and Ajinca might return a bit sooner, the Pelicans immediately shifted much of their focus to point guard and brought in Robinson and McCalebb.
As things stand today (and believe me, staying current matters a ton with this group), it appears that both Nate Robinson and Bryce Dejean-Jones have a decided edge on the rest of the competition.
Alvin Gentry has been promising for awhile now that the final two games of the preseason will indicate in which direction the organization and coaching staff are leaning towards in terms of both roster spots and rotation minutes. Against the Magic, only 10 different Pelicans saw minutes with 3 unguaranteed contracts among them: Robinson, Dejean-Jones and McCalebb.
In addition to the playing time, preseason statistics favor both Robinson and Dejean-Jones. First, have a look at the battle on the wing.
|Chris Douglas Roberts||12.8||1.5||1.8||2.6||42.9%||50.0%||15.1||+0.0|
Kilpatrick has not been bad, but he has proven too one dimensional as a volume scorer. Meanwhile, Dejean-Jones contributes on the defensive side of the ball and is more adept at running in an uptempo offense that demands ball-handling and decision-making from as many players on the court as possible. Lastly, his athleticism and length seem to seal the deal.
Next, have a look at 4th tier/emergency point guard battle.
For all intensive purposes, the point guard battle is likely over. I expect McCalebb to not even get minutes on Friday against the Heat. Before their competition even began, the Pelicans already favored Robinson due to his wealth of NBA experience. Adjusting on the fly to his new team mates and coaching staff was always going to be easier for Robinson than McCalebb.
Thus, it's likely just a matter of time before Nate Robinson and Bryce Dejean-Jones are officially added to the 2015-16 regular season roster. However, please do not confuse this analysis with each of their ability to contribute consistently. If Robinson's shot isn't falling, his defensive deficiencies will show emphatically. Meanwhile, Dejean-Jones had trouble getting minutes in college for a variety reasons. It's unfair to expect he is ready to step onto an NBA floor on a nightly basis.
For now, Dell Demps and the rest of the organization is taking it one day at a time and for the time being, it probably includes guaranteeing the contracts of Robinson and Dejean-Jones.