Are you ready for a revolution? You better believe the Pelicans sure are as they aim to turn around a season headed nowhere good fast, all with the odds stacked against them in the form of another year of a clogged Western Conference.
Let’s be honest though, there’s a lot of people who make New Year resolutions that simply never live up to them. The proclamation of a “new year new me” is held back by a poor repeat of past actions. For the Pelicans, we’re hoping that’s not the case as we’ve complied a list of New Year Resolutions for ten players that would make the struggles towards the end of 2018 an afterthought.
Hope you all enjoy.
Anthony Davis: Block out the noise
The rumors aren’t going to go away. And with All-Star weekend and the trade deadline fast approaching, the whispers will only get louder. In addition to the chatter about Davis’ future, his ability to lead New Orleans will continue to be questioned with every loss.
But Davis has shown signs of commitment to the team that is in front of him throughout the year. General manager Dell Demps will surely add a piece or two as well to hopefully complete a flawed but overall talented squad when healthy. If AD can continue to stay strong, his teammates will follow, and it’s possible a long string of victories will too.
Nikola Mirotic: Get healthy and stay you!
There’s not many players on the Pelicans like Mirotic with the ability to spread consistent positive messages, even during tough stretches.
And for a player battling a weird ankle injury and early season trade speculation, no one would blame Niko if he had a negative or frustrating moment in the spotlight.
Mirotic has instead stayed true to himself and his teammates as the ups and downs of the NBA season has strayed on the Pelicans since their 4-0 start. He’s been open about his love for the team and the city of New Orleans since he arrived last season.
The positivity in the rough times can be an example for a team finding it’s way. And upon a return, that message can spread and be apart of the leading force for a strong union. For a team filled with inconsistency, Mirotic continues to be a constant — and fresh case of air.
Julius Randle: Keep that inner pit bull on a leash
Temptation is simply hell when rare talent is involved. A person’s skill can lead them to believe even the toughest tasks are possible. And while that’s a beautiful mindset to have in overcoming challenges in life, it eventually can lead to stubbornness if not carefully controlled. A confident, young person often doesn’t know the difference between a dangerous gamble and a lesson not worth assimilating when presented with an enticing test.
Randle’s biggest gifts are his versatility, energy, and aggression. When he’s in harmony, Randle can bully opponents, create for himself, or others, and completely change the momentum of a contest. When he’s off-kilter, Randle’s focus morphs into tunnel vision which invariably leads to turnovers, unnecessary fouls, and a cringe worthy shot selection.
Finding that balance is the key with any pit bull. If Randle could harness more patience and self-control, his game will go to another level — and the Pelicans would be right behind him.
Jrue Holiday: Make the All-Star team/Continue changing your narrative
Jrue Holiday has seen many narratives throughout this career. But throughout his time in New Orleans, “injury prone” and “underrated” have taken the cake.
Similar to Mike Conley Jr. of the Grizzlies, most throughout the basketball world simply haven’t watched enough of Holiday to understand the amount of respect he deserves. Oftentimes, the analysis is sometimes uneven, or quite frankly, uninformed.
Deleted this because it didn’t accurately reflect what I meant, which was more about what I expect from Holiday and his standards and also because I’m a little afraid for Pelicans’ fans psyches at the moment. pic.twitter.com/ens05ociVS— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 1, 2019
Matt’s a good guy, but even he couldn’t escape the wrath from avid Holiday followers for not fully delving into most numbers first before attempting to make an informed opinion — And that’s not factoring that all assessments will quickly be rebuked in the name of bandannas. Thank you, Preston!
His VORP is 28th, ahead of Gobert, Beal, DeRozan, Embiid, Capela, Mitchell, Vucevic. His offensive rating is better than AD's and defensive is almost identical. In December he averaged 22/8/5/1.7/1 on 47%/37%.— Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) January 1, 2019
What are you talking about?
The numbers tell one story, an all-star birth can tell another on a stage where millions will be watching. Last year’s postseason was Jrue’s national coming out party, if he continues this type of play, he’ll hopefully have a chance to throw another once April comes again.
E’Twaun Moore: Stay in the starting lineup
Some players stand out the best, when surrounded by supreme talent. Confidence levels are raised, roles are shifted, and expectations are floored. This is the current life for E’Twuan Moore. Alvin Gentry seems to think so as well.
Alvin Gentry says he could eventually consider moving E’Twaun Moore back into the starting lineup. “Some guys play better when they’re starting.”— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) December 29, 2018
In a decision that was made to help a struggling bench and foster depth, the Pelicans moved E’Twaun to the bench in hopes his play could energize the reserves and a serious lack of firepower.
After starting the season red-hot by averaging 15 points per game while shooting just over 44 percent from deep (52% overall) in the months of October and November, Moore’s new role in December put him into a deep slump.
His December numbers fell to nine points per game on 38 percent shooting, 36 percent from behind the arc. Stretches like the one below had us wishing for less of Moore.
E'Twuan Moore last 6 games:— Shamit Dua (@FearTheBrown) December 4, 2018
8.2PPG, 2.7RPG, 2.0 APG
37% from the field, 22.2% from 3
Back in the starting lineup again, Moore appears to be back to his productive ways. If New Orleans is to make a run up the standings, they’ll need him to continue with his surprisingly good contributions.
Elfrid Payton: Be yourself
When the Pelicans were unable to re-sign veteran Rajon Rondo during free agency, the pressure immediately landed on the shoulders of Elfrid Payton. The 24-year-old Gretna native didn’t seem to let that bother him, however, as he looked to be on the verge of a breakout year early on the schedule.
But after battling injuries to his ankle and then finger, and in combination with the Pelicans struggles at the point guard position to replace his minutes, that pressure had soon reinvented itself. In preparation for Elfrid’s return, the chatter felt almost as if his return would fix all of New Orleans’ issues.
Well, after the loss to the Brooklyn Nets a few nights ago, it likely hasn’t.
But no matter, it’s not Elfrid’s job to fix the depth on the roster. Instead, he just needs to do himself — control the pace of the game, find open teammates and keep defenses honest by maintaining a healthy dose of aggression. The Pelicans could certainly use the structure, and sense of normalcy.
Basketball gods, please keep “Elf off the shelf.”
Darius Miller: Believe in yourself
Confidence can bring consistency to any element of life. Darius Miller is one of those elements. After a fantastic return to the NBA and the Pelicans last season, Miller looked to build upon that campaign by providing more key wing minutes and shooting for New Orleans.
While the numbers don’t show much of a drop-off, the eye tell a different story as Miller has gone from a breath of fresh air to a total wildcard. Games like his career-high tying 21-point outburst against the Timberwolves on Monday can turn into him playing 29 minutes in the next contest and only supplying three points on four shots.
If Darius can get hot once again for a consistent stretch, it will take the pressure off of several players around him and be a boon to a bench with little bark. The Pelicans need Miller to be aggressive considering the lack of scoring threats Alvin Gentry has at his disposal among the reserves. But to do that, Miller must face biggest ailment —-his confidence.
Cheick Diallo: Stay ready because your name will be called
For a team that sometimes lacks energy and effort, those are nights when Cheick Diallo’s name deserves to be called. But remember it’s not promised so he truthfully doesn’t know what his role will be going forward. Diallo’s flaws as a young player can be frustrating, but it pales in comparison to those who are getting the minutes and are selective with the efforts they present.
Nikola Mirotic’s impending return only complicates Diallo’s opportunity for minutes even more. But on a team with Alvin Gentry as head coach, no rotation structure is ever safe. There’s no telling when his name will be called again, he just needs to be ready. It could be any day.
Solomon Hill: Don’t worry about living up to anything but making a play today
There’s no telling what Solomon Hill worries about internally — and who could blame him? But you get the feeling that he’s a good guy who cares deeply about his team. If that is the case, realizing the failure of living up to a huge contract has to continually be on his mind somewhere.
All Hill has done, however, is be a team first guy, taking any challenge asked of him, and any role that comes with said challenge. That won’t further endear him with many Pelican faithfuls, but it does show a guy with good character. There’s nothing Hill can do to make up for lost time or to live up to the money the Pelicans chose to deliver him so forget yesterday and live for tomorrow.
Solomon’s best attribute at this point is to focus on the day ahead, and figure out what he can do to impact each singular game. If he can simply make himself a part of the Pelicans finding different ways to win, that’s more than enough for right now.
Frank Jackson: Continue with that rookie curve
Frank Jackson should be a dependable NBA player for the Pelicans some day soon. With his motor and athleticism, he’ll eventually become a key member of the rotation.
Jackson is a symbol of explosiveness and electricity that at his age isn’t always easy to contain. Some days he’s best watching, others, best learning on the floor. Regardless, Jackson shouldn’t be considered an afterthought, as most young guns without much time in college take time with their professional development. If Jackson is taking notes along his journey, he’ll be just fine.
As always until next time, Geaux Pels!