Next to Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, predict which player will emerge as most instrumental to the team's success. Why?
Jason: Jrue Holiday
Well, seeing as the organization just gave him a 5 year/$126M dollar contract, it better be Jrue Holiday! Though I absolutely love the addition of Rajon Rondo, it is time for Holiday to be the all-star caliber guard the Pelicans received via a controversial trade. Simply put, Holiday needs to emerge as the third star for this team and it’s best guard. The Pelicans have the best front court in the NBA, but it’s vital for Holiday to hold it down in the backcourt and take pressure of the bigs. Otherwise, teams like the Trail Blazers are gonna torch playoff hopes in New Orleans.
Kevin: Solomon Hill
I'm not sure that this will happen, though, I do have some faith: if Solomon Hill can make just a minor leap on the offensive end, it will be the most important improvement because the Pelicans will finally have a complete legitimate three on the roster.
Jamile: Rajon Rondo
I would say Jrue Holiday, but we don't live in a vacuum — although space is a vaccum so technically we do — thus, I actually think its Rajon Rondo. Rondo has an ability to get players the ball where they are comfortable. Holiday is player that can be really good in situations that suit his game. If Rondo can help ease Holiday’s ball-handling duties, while also setting him up with efficient, confidence-building shots, Holiday could be in for a big season.
However, if the Rondo experiment falls flat, Holiday likely goes right back on the ball where he can dribble the Pelicans playoff chances right off his feet. If engaged, Rondo’s basketball IQ is miles above what New Orleans has had on the floor in past seasons, which in my opinion, is a very underrated aspect of the Rondo signing.
Preston: Jrue Holiday
The hopeful answer is Jrue Holiday. He has the highest potential, and frankly, the greatest paycheck. Should he not emerge, it will be considered a crippling disappointment given the team's financial commitment to him.
After him, the Pelicans need to hope for a monumental leap from Solomon Hill, or a surprise break out from Darius Miller. I think a healthy and productive Quincy Pondexter is too much to hope for, and even should Rondo surprise all naysayers, it may force the Pelicans to pay him with future salary they simply don't have.
David: Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday feels like the only choice. If this team takes the next step, it will be in large part thanks to Holiday getting back on track. Before injuries turned his career sideways, he was an All-Star who looked great during a Team USA scrimmage in the summer of 2013, alongside Kyrie Irving in the backcourt. Great two-way play with consistent aggressive play offensively is the ticket for Holiday.
Zachary: Rajon Rondo
It has to be Rajon Rondo because the Pelicans need someone to get them the ball. I don't think the Pelicans sign Rondo if they're completely confident in Jrue Holiday to be the true facilitator of the offense.
Oleh: Jrue Holiday
As much as I sought to make an argument for another player on the roster, I couldn’t. After Davis and Cousins, Jrue Holiday is the most talented player on the team, a legitimate two-way player in the league, and when he’s on his game, a heck of a difference maker.
The problem, though, is he’s been plagued by inconsistent results throughout his career but never was this more apparent than last season. It’s astounding a once 80.1% career free throw shooter converted just 70.8% from the charity stripe in 2016-17. In Pelicans wins, he averaged 17.0 points and had a 56.4 true shooting %. In losses, 13.9 points and a 49.9 TS%. Last January he made a scorching 51.6% of his three-point attempts, but 30.9% in the rest of the months combined. That’s Dwyane Wade, Brandon Jennings and Tim Frazier territory.
If Holiday can overcome his demons from last season, he’s the easiest bet to be the Pelicans third best player. If not, yikes.
Travis: Jrue Holiday
I think we all know about #TNTRondo by now — I'd expect big games from him against good opponents, but for him to become distracted and maybe even bored in games against lesser teams. (Maybe it's a good thing that two lesser teams are places that he'll want to destroy, having been a former player in Dallas and Sacramento.)
There's a world in which Jrue becomes very effective as a 2... he's never been a true distributor, even with relatively good playmaking numbers, because I see him as a driver off the wing. He might be a difference-maker, especially if this team wants to make the playoffs. Let's hope he's worth all that ca$h.