NBA Rank is here!
ESPN's #NBARank is back for another year, ranking the top 400 players in the league. In their first installment, they reveal their first 100 players, aptly titled the "bottom 100." Four Pelicans found themselves bringing up the rear so lets talk about them.
#389: Alonzo Gee
Last season, Gee bounced around a bit, going from Cleveland, to Charlotte, landed in New Orleans, got traded to Houston in the Omer Asik trade, sent to Sacramento for Jason Terry, waived by the Kings, signed with Denver before the season, and finally, traded to Portland at the mid-season trade deadline. In the end, Gee finished with 54 games played, 4.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and shot 37.1% from beyond the arc.
Gee signed a small, two-year contract with New Orleans in the off-season, looking to provide some energy and depth to their wing arsenal. He had some solid, yet inefficient seasons in Cleveland, where he averaged over 10.0 points per game. Under new Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, Gee provides energy and defense, and if he could maintain his three-point shooting, albeit, with more attempts, he could become a fun role player for the Pelicans.
#350: Dante Cunningham
After a tumultuous off-season a year ago, Cunningham found himself on the sidelines of the start of the regular season. General manager Dell Demps decided to take a chance on the former Timberwolf and signed him. In return, Cunningham rewarded the Pelicans with 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 66 games, splitting time between at the small forward and power forward positions.
Re-signed this offseason to a three-year, $9 million deal, Cunningham, similar to Gee, provides energy and depth to the frontcourt. I'm fascinated to see how the Pelicans get him on the court. Between Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, Tyreke Evans, Alonzo Gee and Alexi Ajinca, Cunningham will be fighting for minutes this season. What would help? A three-point shot. Cunningham shot just 10 threes last season.
#347: Luke Babbitt
After joining New Orleans in the 2013-14 season, Babbitt returned as the team's specialist, known for his profound three-point shooting ability. Although his minutes per game decreased, Babbitt played in a career-high 63 games and started in 19 of them. In 2014-15, Babbitt finished with 4.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and shot 51.3% from beyond the arc on 115 attempts.
The Pelicans are stocked at the 2-3 pivot with options: Babbitt as a shooter, Gee and Cunningham bring the energy. I tend to lean towards the Cunningham side with Babbitt. He's a fine shooter, but I wonder how Gentry will find him minutes. To be more specific, Babbitt's defensive woes could derail his playing time, especially if Gee's shooting can go from a hotstreak to consistent.
#316: Alexis Ajinca
An interesting spot for the former first round pick. After missing the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, Ajinca signed with New Orleans in 2013 and returned as a solid reserve, averaging 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 56 games. This past season, Ajinca took another step, averaging 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds and had numerous moments where he outplayed starting center Omer Asik.
The Pelicans believed in Ajinca's progression and signed the 26-year-old to a four-year, $20 million contract. He's a large, brawny center, capable of having solid moments as an offensive center. Defensively, Ajinca is questionable, and in this NBA climate, most defenders need to be able to extend out and defend wing players. Ajinca isn't that great at stepping out on the pick and roll yet and allowed 52.3% at the rim last season.
Which Pelican do you think is listed too low? More than one or none at all?