Anthony Davis. That’s the response you would get if you asked someone to name anybody on the New Orleans Pelicans roster.
I doubt they’d be able to get anyone else’s name. Possibly Jrue Holiday, because he’s a former all-star, but he’s also been sidelined with a multitude of injuries over the past couple of seasons, including a stress fracture in his leg that keeps reappearing. The Pelicans have been so decimated by injuries the last couple of seasons that Davis may not even be able to tell who filled their spots. It shows in their gameplay, too.
Sitting at 2-9, they have the second worst record in the league. The Pelicans have three starters – Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter – who haven’t even touched the court this year, with journeyman point guard Tim Frazier being one of the team’s top producers.
The biggest standout on the team, obviously, has been Davis. Averaging 31 points, 11 rebounds and a league leading three blocks per game, along with a stellar 31.4 PER, Davis has vaulted into the conversation for being a top five player in the NBA.
Despite Davis’ success, the Pelicans have continuously struggled over the past couple of seasons. If this persists, the Pelicans will be in deep trouble. All of the fears that Pelicans fans have are surrounding Davis, questioning if he will stay healthy, if he will be able to continue being this effective and, most alarmingly, will he leave for another team if New Orleans can’t piece together a winning roster in the next couple of years?
These fears were brought up just a couple of years ago, but after Davis signed a five year max contract, things were looking up for the Pelicans. They would have some time to piece together a talented roster, filled with young veterans and savvy playmakers to help build a winning culture. Well, time is now running out.
While Davis’ contract doesn’t expire until 2020, the Pelicans must at least prove that they can run a successful franchise with talented players if they wish for him to stay. Some progress in 2018 may not be enough as with Davis entering his prime, he may want to jump ship and go somewhere where he can win a championship immediately and not wait around in mediocrity like he did before.
There is some reason for optimism, however. Jrue Holiday is set to return this weekend, and rookie Buddy Hield seems to be finding his shooting touch over the last couple of games. It’s still clear, however, that the Pelicans need to acquire more talent, whether it be through a trade for an established veteran, or hoping the ping pong balls fall in their favor during the draft lottery. If they don’t, they can consider Davis’ time in New Orleans a waste, and they’ll have to start from scratch again.