The question isn’t if the New Orleans Pelicans will bring in another point guard to training camp next month but who.
The number of floor generals that have been connected to New Orleans since Elfrid Payton was signed and Rajon Rondo skipped town has grown into a rather long list: Dennis Schroeder, Tyreke Evans, Yogi Ferrell, Mario Chalmers, Alexey Shved, and then announced yesterday, Ty Lawson and Tyrone Wallace.
Ty Lawson and Tyrone Wallace worked out for the New Orleans Pelicans this week, according to sources.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 25, 2018
What’s more, there are several additional veteran PGs available including Jarrett Jack, Jameer Nelson and Ramon Sessions.
Although New Orleans has 18 players under contract, they can field a roster of up to 20 participants in preseason action. Moreover, only 12 of those contracts are guaranteed so there exists a chance for any remaining free agents to audition in front of the Pelicans and possibly stick with the team heading into the 2018-19 regular season.
My personal favorite to be awarded this golden opportunity is Ty Lawson, and I explained why nearly one month ago.
Rather, I would like to see the front office get Elfrid Payton some help because watching Jrue Holiday routinely beat up on shooting guards is a lot of fun. While New Orleans has a slew of guys capable of dribbling the ball up the court and making a pass or two, it would be great to get a backup for the Rajon Rondo backup plan. Say, Ty Lawson!
Admittedly, I haven’t been high on Lawson since he left Denver, but after watching him look above average against Toronto in the playoffs a few months ago, I think he could genuinely help.
The speed, passing and some semblance of a three-point shot look to be intact, and Otto Porter, a Wizards teammate, absolutely raved about him.
“Shoot, he is a smaller version of John Wall,” said Porter. “He’s so quick. He is amazing ... Somebody you can’t sleep on. He might be small, but he can create a lot of havoc in the paint.”
Tyrone Wallace is a decent option too, after turning down a four-year deal (most of which was unguaranteed) with the Clippers last spring, but he does remain a restricted free agent after L.A. offered him a qualifying offer.
Wallace emerged out of training camp with Los Angeles last year and became a key contributor, averaging 9.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists in around 28 minutes a game. Here’s a detailed list of his strengths from Robert Flom of Clips Nation.
Ty is a versatile player on both ends of the court in a league that is becoming increasingly about players who can fill multiple roles. His size is the first thing that stands out. On a Clippers’ team that has long been on the small side on the perimeter, Wallace’s 6’5 frame with impressive length and wingspan is a refreshing change of pace. That size along with good lateral quickness enables Wallace to defend at least three positions (he could probably guard some power forwards too). In an NBA where switching is more prevalent than ever, that defensive adaptability makes Wallace a very useful player on that end. He has sneakily swift hands as well, allowing him to frequently strip ball-handlers. Ty being as good as he was on the defensive end (for the most part) in just his rookie season was truly a surprise.
On offense, Wallace has an equally diverse skillset. In his first handful of games in the NBA, he revealed himself to be a smart cutter, capable of diving to the rim without the ball at just the perfect timing for a sneak layup. He worked a nice synergy with Milos Teodosic and Lou Williams, both of whom were able to find him at the right moments for easy scores. As the season went along and Ty became more comfortable, he flashed more on-ball skills. He is legitimately deadly in transition, his long strides and length getting him to the rim and around defenders with relative ease. In the halfcourt, he can take smaller defenders in the post, utilizing a little hook shot as well as a stepback jumper. Most impressively, Ty demonstrated the ability to create of the dribble against a set defense, demonstrating a swift first step and impressive finishing inside.
While Ty played more as a lead guard in the G-League, in the NBA, he played a lot more off-ball, even when he was the nominal point guard. With experienced ball-handlers and better shot creators in Lou, Milos, and Austin Rivers, Ty played more as a secondary or tertiary playmaker. And in such a role, Ty proved a solid passer as well: He kept bad passes to a minimum, and generally made the correct reads. As a whole, Ty is just a smart, smart basketball player.
The biggest drawback in Wallace’s game, unfortunately, is his deep perimeter shot — he doesn’t have one. He rarely attempted three-pointers, but when he did, he knocked them down at a putrid 25%. This isn’t a surprise considering he failed to shoot the college three well in all four of his seasons at the University of California, but it may be too much of a red flag with Elfrid Payton already on the Pelicans roster and Wallace not possessing above average playmaking and ball-handling skills at the point guard position.
Any remaining free agent at the one is going to have their fair share of weaknesses this late in the summer, but the Pelicans will in all likelihood select one soon. I favor Lawson; how about you?