An underwhelming free agency crop and personnel fit issues are just several noted offseason failures that should dent New Orleans Pelicans hopes of making the 2018 postseason — at least according to many within the national media.
Earlier in the week, Kevin Pelton published his draft and free agency grades for the Western Conference and gave the Pelicans a C-, the lowest grade in the article next to the San Antonio Spurs. Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux were even more negative on the topic in a recent podcast as both handed out D grades.
(I’ll be honest, listening to the duo’s analysis made me throw up a little in my mouth — so many items that I disagree with: Solomon Hill is not better suited at power forward, Tim Frazier was not an adequate backup for this team who should have been retained, Jeff Green would not adequately fill Pelicans hole at starting small forward and on and on. Yeesh!)
To be fair, none of these grades included the addition of Ian Clark, but gauging by the fact that ESPN failed to put up a blurb anywhere on their NBA home page regarding the signing, signifies few think he is going to move the needle much, if at all, anyways.
For instance, Pelton released projected win totals for every team in the league today, and the Pelicans ranked ninth in the Western Conference with 44.2 wins. Yet, he went on to mention that figure may be too high because RPM fails to account for fit. (He believes both Jrue Holiday and Hill will play too much out of position next season.)
There’s no good way to spin it: early returns from pundits are not good. I must admit that I agree with some of the reasoning I’ve heard or read from certain outlets, yet there’s a bunch of it that stinks, too.
Instead of potentially making the same mistake, though, by also flying by the seat of my pants before the offseason has concluded — I still believe Dell Demps will create the necessary space to at least re-sign Dante Cunningham — I aim to fill in the days before the start of training camp by analyzing the Pelicans thoroughly and answering questions when appropriate: What can we expect out of Darius Miller? Can DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis successfully co-exist? How about Rajon Rondo and Holiday? What positives does Solomon Hill bring to the table? And most importantly, what playoff odds do I give a largely healthy New Orleans Pelicans squad?