With names like Lance Stephenson and Ty Lawson populating remaining top-10 free agent lists, it’s time to hand out some grades for the New Orleans Pelicans offseason as a whole.
The team had a busy offseason as evidenced by Dell Demps re-signing Tim Frazier and Alonzo Gee and adding six fresh faces: Solomon Hill, E’twaun Moore, Langston Galloway, Terrence Jones, Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo.
Change is often applauded when following major disappointment, but does this premise hold true for the Pelicans recent roster upheaval? Read on to find out what several of our writers had to say on the matter.
My final grade for the Pelicans offseason is a B, a mark higher than every other team in the Western Conference except for Golden State, San Antonio, and Portland. The Pelicans didn't hit that big home run that has become all too familiar with this front office, but instead made a lot of inexpensive, savvy moves. Signing Hill, Moore, and Jones to below market value contracts will give the Pelicans some depth this upcoming season.
Dell Demps appears to be working well with Danny Ferry, assembling a team that could threaten to mimic the recent 60-win Atlanta Hawks but with one big exception — Anthony Davis. The Pelicans have that enviable superstar, not to mention the fact that Buddy Hield somehow slipped to the sixth pick. I'm really looking forward to the Pelicans' bright future.
This was a really well-conceived offseason. People may complain that we don't have the star power to truly compete in the West, but we have a true superstar in Anthony Davis, and when healthy, Jrue Holiday is an All-Star caliber guard. The Warriors and maybe even the Spurs are likely impossible to topple to grab a chance to play for a championship in the next couple of years, but I've always felt the championship or bust grading system was ridiculous.
What the front office has done this offseason is assemble the role players needed, through the draft and free agency, to build a winning team around Davis and Holiday. The Pelicans have moved on from two sunken costs and tried to solve their epic defensive woes — all this without overspending or giving up valuable assets.
The Warriors clearly won free agency with a Rodeo Dr. like splurge, but the Pelicans filled out their closet with thrift store value scores to post one of the best offseasons in the league this summer.
The Pelicans are no longer the Prince of the Western Conference. That's the sad truth fans have to accept as the Timberwolves usurped that status from New Orleans. Reaching the playoffs remains the next step.
But the moves that were made restore the hope that existed one year ago. Galloway, Jones, Hill, Hield, Diallo and Moore are foundational players who might not be crown jewels, but they will give Davis an army that he can call his.
There's once again promise and hope in the Crescent City. It was a home run of an offseason, just not a grand slam because potential doesn't equate to eventual success. It's going forward that matters.
New Orleans avoided the big mistake this summer, which is heartening after some of Tom Benson's earlier comments in April that appeared to portend a big splash. The draft was good but not great in my opinion. I'm more excited about the value and upside of Cheick Diallo than Buddy Hield. That the Pelicans passed on my personal favorite Jamal Murray still gnaws at me.
Free agency was again solid. Solomon Hill has the greatest chance of being a big mistake; while he's good defensively, that's a lot of money to give someone who has yet to demonstrate he's a starter in the NBA. Like the draft, I'm most interested in the smallest move: signing Terrence Jones to the minimum.
I think the Pelicans did a good job of adding NBA talent. However, I don’t know how much better they are then the season before. Another, slightly underrated thing the Pels did is that they didn’t kill themselves with any bad contracts. Adding several decent players to fix a bad defense is a good call, but the lack of upside to evolve into legitimate star talent will keep the ceiling for this group rather low.
When Alvin Gentry replaced Monty Williams, the ill-fitting roster became grossly inadequate overnight following the transition. The existing personnel were not remotely suited to run a more unselfish style of offense nor maintain a quicker pace that demanded more versatility on defense. This was made blatantly obvious when comparing the team’s performances during the 15-game month of December (when nearly the entire roster was healthy) to the ragtag bunch that closed out the final 15 games of the regular season.
|ORtg||eFG%||Ast%||TO Ratio||Pace||Points Per Game|
|15-game December stretch||103.6||50.4%||57.3%||14.5||96.60||101.8|
|Final 15 games of schedule||103.3||50.6%||62.2%||15.0||98.00||101.2|
Despite a grand total of just 6 appearances between Davis, Holiday, Evans, Anderson and Gordon to close out the year, the offensive production was virtually identical between the two 15-game stretches. Additionally, the pace and effective passing improved despite Gentry having to play Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik and Kendrick Perkins a combined average of 60 minutes a game.
Hence, the reason I graded the Pelicans so well was because they must be rewarded for adding so many new parts that are potentially better suited to execute the schemes and strategies — all the while at a cost of around $33 million! The defense looks to be infinitely improved on paper and next season’s available cap space remains largely intact. Outside of the Golden State Warriors and maybe the Phoenix Suns or Utah Jazz, I don’t believe another team in the Western Conference changed their fortunes around as much as the New Orleans Pelicans.
I wanted to give an overall grade of an A, but with so many inexperienced and fresh faces, it’s difficult to justify the highest of marks. That said, the potential for a perfect fit is there. The team radically changed the roster, which I feel was for the better, so the potential is there for a significant turnaround. As a side note, I believe both Hill and Frazier will be huge this season.