It wasn't supposed to be like this for the New Orleans Pelicans. Think back to opening night and the preseason power rankings. No one ranked the Pelicans worse than 11th. Las Vegas put the the Pelicans over under at 47.5 wins. They are going to fall far short of those marks.
Injuries came in waves all season long and began in training camp. Dante Cunningham and Alonzo Gee will be the only players to play at least 70 games. Gee, for his troubles, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn quad. The Pelicans lead the league with 332 games lost to injury and could clear 350 with two games remaining thanks to a nearly comical injury list.
This isn't the first time the Pelicans have endured a waive of injuries under the current front office. 2013-14 (243 games) and 2011-12 (220) were also particularly bad. This will be the second time in six seasons under Dell Demps the Pelicans lead the league in games lost (2011-12); Eric Gordon is the only holdover from that roster. Over six seasons the Pelicans will average about 160 games lost per year; closer to league average than you might think thanks to some absurdly good luck during the 2010-11 season when the then-Hornets lost just 44 games to injury.
If it is just luck (we'll have more on that) the Pelicans are due for some good luck. Maybe a well-publicized voo doo cleansing ritual is just the trick. Sorry, I have my doubts.
Last Week: 25 - This Week: 25
The Pelicans have discovered something in Tim Frazier, who has averaged 13.1 points and 6.7 assists in just 28.6 minutes since signing in mid-March. But they'll have to decide if Frazier, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans is one too many ball-handlers. Priority No. 1 in July has to be perimeter defense. The Pels were actually pretty good in transition, but generally brutal when it came to getting stops in half-court situations.
Last Week: 26 - This Week: 27
Injuries were a non-stop culprit here, but the Pels can't avoid the Most Disappointing Team conversation, either. With Anthony Davis widely forecasted to make an MVP run and 50 wins considered a reasonable target, New Orleans wound up leading the league in most starting lineups used with 40. Maybe the Pels, in free agency, will find that curse-lifting voodoo doctor that Alvin Gentry has been calling out for.
Last Week: 26 - This Week: 27
With certainty, we can now say this is not an optimal core to place around Anthony Davis, who should in theory make that job extremely easy. All the injuries aside, an awkward-fitting backcourt and unskilled frontcourt need shuffling. I’m willing to give Alvin Gentry a mulligan, but a one-year turnaround is wishful thinking.
Last Week: 26 - This Week: 25
(D) -- Injuries cost them any fallback position, but they were routed from the battlefield because they could not defend in the first place. A drastic reconsideration of what this team is and how it's designed is in order for the summer.