The New Orleans Pelicans (30-52) dropped their final game of the season to the Minnesota Timberwolves (29-53), 144-109. Omer Asik finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, while Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists for Minnesota.
There are no more games left and I am sad.
This was a blowout from the start. As soon as Towns took it coast to coast, I knew I wasn't going to be reviewing much from this game. The Pelicans, left with seven players available for the finale (although 8 dressed per NBA rules), allowed 72 points in the first half and close to 62 percent shooting from the field. In the words of Drake: "Andrew Wiggins with the dance moves, Zach LaVine with the dance moves, Shabazz Muhammad with the dance moves."
The young guns of Minnesota danced all over the Pelicans players, but hey, Kendrick Perkins knocked down a three-pointer (so what that it was overturned on replay because his foot was on the line). We highlighted Asik's strong night in the intro, but he looked good out there. He didn't defend Towns well, but when you have a big man that doesn't kill him from the outside (KAT can shoot, but still) Asik has some value. Overall, everyone pitched in and provided some solid numbers while undermanned. It's easy to nitpick, but I won't because again, this is the last game of the season.
Outside of Jordan Hamilton's soul crushing -44 plus/minus, I thought James Ennis played really well. He went for 28 points, showing off an array of on and off the ball skills. The key in all of this was the 6-of-11 he went from three-point territory. He'll never be asked to put up that level of production on a contending team, but I would like to see Ennis brought back. Not totally insane if he could become a ninth man, especially if he can hit the three with some consistency.
And hey, can't forget about Dante Cunningham. 17 points and he knocked down two three pointers. Another guy who I think could be a nice role player, and after he showed on a very macro level to space the floor, the Pelicans are bringing him back for cheap and get a chance to see if that three-ball is something he might sustain over a larger amount of attempts.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say thank god that this season is over. More players in the medical ward than available was comedy, to say the least. The Pelicans are now going to have to figure out several different things with the roster, starting with the upcoming lottery pick. Teams, including Minnesota, have already started looking at potential head coaches, but New Orleans wasn't mentioned. I wasn't a big fan of Alvin Gentry's lineup usage, but I think that's the right thing, as I want to see an upgrade on talent on the court first.
Whoever is in charge this offseason is going to have the task of building around Anthony Davis and with Davis' extension kicking in next season, there's an additional incentive to build this team A) correctly and B) quickly. The goal was to contend as Davis developed into a top-10 player in the league, and after one recent playoff season, the goal is now to build a long-term contender.
Omer Asik is a terrible contract to have on the books, but I wouldn't move him because I'm not including draft picks to do so. I think the Pelicans should just find a way to play him 15-20 minutes a night, allowing him to help preserve Anthony Davis of all the center minutes. This last game performance only convinced me that Asik isn't completely fried, just probably better in smaller doses.
Bring back James Ennis. He looked good in this game and has looked good since arriving in New Orleans. I'll say it again: long, athletic wing player who spaced the floor in his limited sample. The Pelicans don't have his bird rights, meaning they would have to cut into some of their cap space to bring him back. I say, bring him back on a cheap (under the next cap jump), attach some non-guaranteed years on it and see if he could be a solid role player.
Let Toney Douglas go, bring back Tim Frazier. Douglas is just not all that good and while the perception is that he brings defense, but I just don't see that when I watch him at all. He's more of a detriment at this point. To me, Frazier has showed the ability to operate and maintain the offense, which is key. I don't know how he would fare next to Tyreke Evans, but Frazier is a good player.
The Pelicans were bad this season, but consider me an optimist. Anthony Davis is still one of the best players in the world, Jrue Holiday is pretty good, too. The Pelicans might lose Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, but I think both could be replaced. Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter returning? The lottery pick (could be Ben Simmons!) and some cap space (more, now that Davis probably won't make All-NBA) to play with.