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Pelicans plunge in power rankings as the schedule is about to pick up

Anthony Davis is struggling and New Orleans is sliding

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Another bad week and the New Orleans Pelicans are sliding down NBA Power Rankings once again. Losing to the Memphis Grizzlies in double overtime, while frustrating, is not a bad loss. The Philadelphia 76ers racking up their first road win after 23 consecutive losses is another matter entirely. Thankfully the Pelicans got back on track Sunday evening pulling out a come from behind victory in overtime over the similarly lowly Phoenix Suns.

Anthony Davis has not looked himself this month. So far in December Davis is posting a 19.6 PER (down from 31.6 in November) and he’s shooting 38.6% from the field. His shot chart in December is unrecognizable.

Davis December Shot Chart

Are defenses adjusting to the lack of help around Anthony Davis? Is the toll of playing so many minutes (Davis currently leads the league averaging 38.4 per game) beginning to make its presence known? Or, as Pelican fans hope, is this just a momentary cold spell?

These Pelicans are 8-17 so far this season. They would need to win 34 of the next 57, or roughly a 50 win pace stretched out over the course of 82 games, to clear .500 and make a serious run at the eighth and final playoff spot. It’s probably time to tank. But, if not, the schedule this week will lend a hand. Four straight games against .500+ competition provide few easy wins. Up first, the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.

Last Week: 23 - This Week: 25

Alvin Gentry went with a lineup of four guards - Tim Frazier, Langston Galloway, Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore - plus Anthony Davis for the final seven minutes of Sunday's win in Phoenix. The group wasn't great, but managed to get enough stops in overtime to end the Pelicans' five-game losing streak and survive one of Davis' worst games of the season. Two of those guys - Holiday and Moore - had been unavailable for the previous three games. Buddy Hield remained in the starting lineup after the pair returned and has hit at least two threes in five straight games, but has shot 5-for-17 in the paint over that stretch.


Last Week: 25 - This Week: 29

The Pelicans, through Sunday, have already lost 67 man-games to injury, which doesn't ‎even account for the time Jrue Holiday missed to start the season nursing his wife through the scariest of surgeries. So the notion that Alvin Gentry should be under fire for the Pels' deepening struggles strikes us as more than unjust. But the job security questions are being fired right at Gentry these days, which is what happens when you lose at home to the Sixers when Philly is sporting a 23-game road losing streak. (An aside: We are deeply indebted to our beloved and scrumptious Shaya for helping to fuel this edition of the rankings Sunday night!)

Sports Illustrated

Last Week: 21 - This Week: 23

It's fair to think that little four-game win streak was a mirage.

CBS Sports

Last Week: 23 - This Week: 26

They need ... well, they need a lot of things. But very urgently they need a bench scorer. Someone like Monta Ellis would help this team tremendously.