Tonight your New Orleans Pelicans suit up for their 50th game of the season. They have logged 2362 minutes together on the floor. Together probably is not the right word. No, it is not at all.
While the Pelicans have thus far avoided any serious long term injuries players up and down the roster have missed a number of games. No player has appeared in all 49 games this season with Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson leading the way with 48 games a piece. Omer Asik missed a four game road trip with back problems in November but has been available every night since. Anthony Davis has missed a total of five and a half games due to three unrelated injuries.
Past those four players and the numbers drop considerably. Luke Babbitt is next on the list in games played with 39. Babbitt is hardly a member of the rotation now, being supplanted by the recently acquired duo of Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter. Jure Holiday, with 37 games played, had been the Pelican Iron Man (not missing a start in 37 consecutive games) before going down with a stress reaction. Eric Gordon missed 21 games with a torn labrum.
What has all this wrought? Inconsistency. Monty Williams cannot establish a rotation because every five to ten games another player is out.
The Pelicans play in their 50th game tonight. No five man lineup has appeared in more than 18 games. Where are you cohesion?— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) February 6, 2015
Rotating Door of the Rotation
So far this season Monty Williams has trotted out 11 different starting lineups.
- Holiday, Gordon, Evans, Davis, Asik - 9 Games
- Holiday, Gordon, Evans, Davis, Ajinca - 4 Games (Asik Injured)
- Holiday, Evans, Miller, Davis, Asik - 1 Game (Gordon Injured, Try 1)
- Holiday, Rivers, Evans, Davis, Asik - 2 Games (Gordon Injured, Try 2)
- Holiday, Evans, Babbitt, Davis, Asik - 16 Games (Gordon Injured, Try 3)
- Holiday, Evans, Babbitt, Anderson, Asik - 1 Game (Gordon and Davis Injured)
- Holiday, Rivers, Babbitt, Davis, Asik - 1 Game (Gordon Injured, Evans Sick)
- Holiday, Gordon, Babbitt, Davis, Asik - 1 Game (Evans to 6th Man, Try 1)
- Holiday, Gordon, Cunningham, Davis, Asik - 2 Games (Evans to 6th Man, Try 2)
- Evans, Gordon, Cunningham, Davis, Asik - 8 Games (Holiday Injured)
- Evans, Gordon, Cunningham, Anderson, Asik - 4 Games (Holiday and Davis Injured)
While dealing an ever shuffling deck Monty Williams has shown the ability to quickly go away from sub-optimal groupings. Darius Miller, starting small forward? That was Sacramento pounding the Pelicans at home. Austin Rivers at shooting guard? Back-to-back losses to Atlanta and Washington. The ill-fated Holiday, Gordon, Babbitt, Davis, Asik group? Loss at home to Washington.
Meanwhile, each group to start at least 4 games hovers at .500 or better. Tonight's starting lineup? 6-2. The opening night starting lineup? 5-4. Holiday, Evans, Babbitt, Davis, and Asik posted a 9-7 record in their team leading 16 starts together. Good enough for a 60% winning percentage (20-13) across the three different lineups that Williams has ultimately decided upon for any sustained period.
Wails for consistency fail to account for the lack of availability of players. The Pelicans lack consistency largely because the same eight or nine rotation players have not been available game to game. New Orleans is inconsistent and the search for "why" can come to an end.