Six games in, the Pelicans have exhibited a lot of weaknesses. The offense has had a difficult time with consistency, ball and player movement, and making their fair share of open shots. The defense falls into ruts where they give up in waves the most enviable attempts on the basketball court: at the rim and from behind the three-point line.
As everyone is aware by now, injuries have been the largest debilitating factor. Less than two weeks into the regular season, New Orleans has already seen their roster miss 30 games. They are neck and neck with the Philadelphia Sixers for the highest total number of injuries.
Yesterday, the league office granted the Pelicans the use of the hardship exception and it was announced Jimmer Fredette would become the 16th member of the roster. Jimmer was on the team last season but was not brought back in the off-season. Simply put, he proved to be a shooter who couldn't shoot. After never falling below 36.1% from three-point range for his career, he dipped to an abysmal 18.8% while in New Orleans.
Regardless of that performance, Alvin Gentry claimed Fredette was high on the Pelicans wish-list.
Alvin Gentry says assuming medical exemption comes through, Jimmer Fredette is "high on our list." That’s as committal as he’ll be today.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) November 9, 2015
Although Gentry would go on to add the team is looking at other replacements, Fredette will likely be in uniform for tomorrow's game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Smoothie King Center. New Orleans can certainly use as many healthy bodies as they can, but the problem is they have larger pressing areas of need than a somewhat one-dimensional combo guard.
|Position||Points||Assists||Rebounds||Efficiency Recap||Net Efficiency Recap|
|Point Guards||21.0 (18th)||12.8 (3rd)||5.3 (18th)||+22.2 (15th)||-12.2 (29th)|
|Shooting Guards||20.2 (14th)||3.8 (16th)||4.5 (24th)||+17.0 (20th)||-4.3 (23rd)|
|Small Forwards||9.8 (30th)||1.5 (29th)||7.2 (17th)||+13.5 (26th)||-10.3 (27th)|
|Power Forwards||21.7 (7th)||1.8 (25th)||9.3 (24th)||+19.2 (23rd)||-5.8 (23rd)|
|Centers||30.0 (1st)||2.7 (12th)||13.7 (16th)||+37.3 (2nd)||+5.0 (7th)|
The statistics in the table above come from HoopStats.com and they break down the production of the Pelicans through six games according to position. Efficiency Recap is a formula comprising of ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - ((Field goals attempts - Field goals made) + (Free throws attempts - Free throws made) + Turnovers)). The Net Recap is the sum of the efficiency recap - the opponent's efficiency recap.
The Pelicans best offensive production has come from the center position. Thank Anthony Davis because he has spent approximately 69% of his minutes manning the middle.
The rest of the positions drop off dramatically, but none more than the small forwards group. That's right, point guard hasn't been the biggest eyesore despite consisting of a restricted Jrue Holiday, Ish Smith and Toney Douglas. The statistics scream Dante Cunningham and Luke Babbitt have been the biggest offenders for being the least offensive unit.
Now here's the best part, the duo has also killed the Pelicans on the other end of the floor.
|Player||Opponent's FG%||Opponent's FG% at rim|
First off, go ahead and dismiss Asik, Perkins and Robinson -- their stats lack any kind of sample size. So, what grabs you? The fact that Ish Smith has been shockingly effective or that the combination of Babbitt and Cunningham have been an utter disaster? Half expected this from Luke but Dante?
The duo have spent nearly all of their 250 minutes at the small forward with Gee getting the leftovers. That equates to subpar offensive production 100% of the time, defensive about 75%. The small forward position has held back the 2015-16 Pelicans more than any other spot on the floor, yet here comes Jimmer.
A strong argument could be made that outside of SF, the next biggest area of need is for a strong-rebounding, defensive-minded big man. Although Ajinca's numbers look sparkly, the coaching staff doesn't appear to trust him. (He averages 12.7 minutes per game.) In the Pelican's loss Saturday, I commented that his individual one-on-one defense left a lot to be desired. Even though most teams do not pound the post anymore, his defensive issues and lack of foot-speed are holding him back. (Tell me again Dell, why was he re-signed to a 4-year deal with Gentry at the helm?)
If Gentry is unwilling to play Ajinca, the Pelicans could have found a use for someone like Jeff Adrien. Anderson's defense has been nearly as awful as that of Babbitt and Cunningham. That's just not fair to Anthony Davis, who has his own individual issues to work out, and the first six games signal it isn't going to suddenly morph into a winning combination.
In signing Jimmer Fredette, the Pelicans may add a few more points to their per game total, but they legitimately threaten to double that amount for opponents. Looking at any of the 2-man lineup advanced statistics involving Cunningham, Babbitt or Anderson have resulted in dumpster fires. Adding Jimmer to that mix would likely net the same result that Toney Douglas has: gasoline on a raging inferno.
I would have much rather have seen that 16th roster spot go to Bryce Dejean-Jones. He proved quite capable in an uptempo system, both in Summer League and preseason. Whatever deficiencies he showed on defense, they can't possibly surpass the early results of Cunningham and Babbitt.
Honestly, this latest transaction by Dell Demps is bewildering. Until Omer Asik or Quincy Pondexter return, the Pelicans will in all likelihood continue to suffer from inadequate play at the forward spot. Cunningham doesn't deserve another minute until he cures whatever has been ailing him. Babbitt will continue to run a close second until last year's three-point shooting prowess returns.
So, sorry Jimmer, despite all your faults, it's really not you. It's us.