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Sunday Discussion: Pelicans Building Around Anthony Davis

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How best to build around a superstar

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We have not seen the Pelicans healthy a lot. One area that we have seen relative stability (before the last couple weeks) was the front court. Per game Anthony Davis would receive the lion share of the minutes, then followed by Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, and finally Alexis Ajinca. When all four were available Ajinca rarely saw meaningful minutes because none were available.

The Pelicans will only go as far as Anthony Davis can take them. I do not believe I am in the minority in stating this, but AD's presence is more important than anyone else's. How to properly build around Davis is a critical discussion. Davis has stated he considers himself a power forward and was very excited about the acquisition of Omer Asik.

Right now the Pelicans have a very traditional (and limited offensively) center in Asik to protect Davis from the daily grind of guarding the biggest men in the NBA. Next in line is a prototypical stretch four in Anderson. Davis has rarely (66 total minutes, +9.5 Net Rating) played with Ajinca. Nearly all of those minutes accrued when Asik missed four straight games with back pain in November. Last season, with a larger sample size, Ajinca and Davis together in 505 minutes together posted a -9.9 Net Rating. That is not just bad, it is horrendous.

When pairing Davis with Anderson (324 minutes) the Pelicans posted a +6.0 rating in 2013-14. I dove into the numbers expecting that Davis with Anderson would be a negative this season. That is not the case; the two of them on the court post a +5.4 rating in their 789 minutes together. The defense, predictably, struggles (109.4 DRtg in 13-14, 106.6 in 14-15) but the offense is nigh unstoppable (115.4 ORtg in 13-14, 112.0 in 14-15).

2014-15 MIN ORtg DRtg Net
AD-Omer 869 103.1 100.0 3.1
AD-Ryno 789 112.0 106.6 5.4
AD-Ajinca 66 108.9 99.4 9.5
2013-14 MIN ORtg DRtg Net
AD-Ryno 324 115.4 109.4 6.0
AD-Ajinca 505 100.0 109.9 -9.9

Still, where the numbers say that Anderson and Davis is a solid pairing in the past two seasons I wonder if the Pelicans would be better served with a center as both their second and third big men. My question is two-fold. [Edit: three fold!]

Should the Pelicans stick with Anderson in the final year of his contract rather than trade him this summer?

What trade of Anderson sounds good to you? (Mention it in the comments please)

Who should the Pelicans seek to be their second and third big men around Davis?