We’re but six games from the close of the 2018-19 season and the Pelicans are just one loss from tanking all the way to seventh in the lottery standings!
The 32.3% chance at a top-four selection would be a welcome advantage on May 14th, but until then the Pelicans’ brass still have some evaluating to do.
With season-ending surgery conducted on Jrue Holiday coupled with the concussion suffered to Frank Jackson, the Pelicans fall even further down the rabbit hole alongside head coach Alvin Gentry.
The loss of Frank Jackson is a bit more significant that you might expect. Over the past 10 games, the Pelicans carried the second-worst offensive rating in the NBA (102.2) and Jackson was their second-leading scorer at over 17 points per game (Julius Randle, 22ppg).
But as Albus Dumbledore says, “Help will always be given to those at Hogwarts who deserve it.”
Enter Christian Wood.
Tonight Christian Wood has 21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 3 steals. https://t.co/Eoy5eGdxxG— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) March 27, 2019
With the regression of Cheick Diallo and Jahlil Okafor in recent weeks, Pelicans’ fans struggled to find a young developmental body to get excited about, especially when considering the underwhelming performance of sharp-shooting Euro-man Dairis Bertans (2.2 points per game).
The Pelicans will hope for similar output from their new weapon against De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and the Sacramento Kings.
With 37 wins to their credit, the Kings have progressed nicely under head coach Dave Joerger and they’ve done it all with speed of youthful legs. The second-fastest unit in the NBA is ranked 16th both offensively and defensively. They are top-ten in scoring and 26th in defense so you can safely expect a lot of points to be scored early and often. In fact, Sacramento leads the NBA with an eye-popping 21.2 fast break points per game! They dominate the paint offensively (fifth) and handle the ball with aplomb (sixth in assists/turnovers). Most importantly, they create additional opportunities by limiting turnovers (eighth) and forcing them from their opponents (second).
To have any shot of winning (I mean...) they’ll have to limit the Buddy/Fox backcourt (39 points per game). Marvin Bagley adds another 19 points per game himself, while newly acquired Harrison Barnes averages 16.3. Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic all score 10 points per game apiece and nicely round out a promising young roster.
The Pelicans have lost nine of their past ten games and the Kings have won three of four. We likely know the outcome beforehand, but maybe we can all have some fun along the way?
Let’s geaux, Pels!
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (31-45) vs Sacramento Kings (37-37)
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
When: Tuesday, March 28th, 2019. 7:00 PM CST
How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO