New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps probably didn't script the season this way. Jrue Holiday on a minutes restriction, Tyreke Evans with two knee surgeries, Quincy Pondexter still rehabbing a knee surgery of his own, Omer Asik battling a lingering calf strain, and Norris Cole out with a high ankle sprain turned a deep team into one of the shallowest in the league fast.
The schedule was known to be exceptionally difficult. Two of the Pelicans' three "easy" games came on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. Still, maintaining the worst net rating in the league through two weeks goes beyond injuries and schedule to potentially deeper issues. Is this team actually better playing fast and small? Anthony Davis has logged 69% of his minutes at center this year and the Pelicans have been abjectly awful. His offensive rebound rate has plunged and the team ranks 28th in the league.
How did power rankers react to another 0-3 week? About as you'd expect.
Last Week: 26 - This Week: 28
The Nets and Sixers are also winless, but the Pelicans are the only team that hasn't had a lead in the fourth quarter, which is hard to get when you're allowing an average of 58.3 points in the first half. New Orleans has seen the biggest increase in pace, but have suffered serious regressions on both ends of the floor. Injuries or not, you have to wonder if the Pels need to play slower
Last Week: 17 - This Week: 22
As Yoga Berra might have said: It gets late real early in the Western Conference. Fears that the Pelicans' many injuries are already stuffing them into a potentially fatal hole seem to be justified given recent history, which tells us that the last team to start 0-6 and still make the West playoffs was the Phoenix Suns way back in 1996-97.
Last Week: 15 - This Week: 24
The Pelicans were one of my preseason sleeper teams. Whoops. There’s still Anthony Davis, and Tyreke Evans will be back, but New Orleans is allowing a league-most 114.7 points per game and rebounding at a poor rate despite having Davis around the rim. It’s only the first month, but there’s legitimate reason for concern.
Last Week: 26 - This Week: 28
Injuries are a problem. Not playing defense is a bigger one. The Mavericks were the first soft team on their schedule, and they were blown out Saturday by them. The hole is getting really deep for a team with 45-win aspirations.
News of Note
No Jimmer Fredette sighting at practice today pic.twitter.com/WVecxrO2iy— John Reid (@JohnReid64) November 9, 2015
Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate covered the details of the hardship exemption.
The Pelicans are still waiting on official clearance from the league to go beyond the 15-man roster limit and can only do so because it has at least four players who are injured or sick for longer than two weeks. An independent physician must decide if the length of the injuries meets the guidelines.
Who are the four players? Kendrick Perkins is obviously one. The other three are most likely Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole, and Quincy Pondexter. If that is the case it is going to be a while before we see anything like the roster Dell Demps intended to take the floor out there in a Pelicans uniform. New Orleans plays eight games in the next two weeks and none of them give the appearance of an easy victory.