The struggle is real for the New Orleans Pelicans. Lack of defense, injuries and bench scoring are just a few problems the Pelicans are having during this five game losing streak. With a game on Friday against the red hot Phoenix Suns, that losing streak could easily be pushed to six games.
This season the Pelicans longest losing streak is eight games, but since the start of the New Year the Pelicans are 9-19. The Pelicans allow their opponents to shoot 46% from the floor, which is poor enough to be ranked 25th in the league. The Pelicans are slow on their defensive rotations, which leads to a fair amount of fouling. Their opponents on average attempt about 26 free throws a game. Not only do their opponents attempt a great amount of free throws, but also make 74% of them. When the Pelicans let opponents shoot a solid percentage from the floor and free throw line, they can’t expect to win many games.
Winning games hasn’t been in the Pelicans repertoire this season. The Pelicans are struggling so bad right now that the team wouldn’t even make the Eastern Conference playoffs. And it’s a sad sight to see, because this team has one of the best power forwards/centers in the NBA today. According to blecherreport.com, the Pelicans final record is going to be 32-50. I would have to disagree, because I think the Pelicans can finish the year off with a 37-45 record, but they have work do to. With the way they are playing at the moment that final record doesn’t seem reasonable, but once Anthony Davis gets back to full strength I believe they can get to 37 wins.
The 82 game NBA season is a very lengthy period. Injuries are part of the game and are a main reason why the Pelicans have struggled throughout this season. Davis is listed as day-to-day after he left the game with a shoulder sprain on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks. Star point guard, Jrue Holiday is still out indefinitely with a stress fracture and hasn’t been back to practice. Holiday last played on January 1 of this year when he scored 8 points against the Washington Wizards. Scoring big man, Ryan Anderson is still out with a back injury and no timetable is set for his return. Anderson last played on January 3 against the Celtics when he scored 13 points in 25 minutes. Center Jason Smith will miss the rest of the season with the Pelicans due to surgery on his right knee. Smith last played on January 15 against the Houston Rockets when he scored 10 points.
Injuries have hurt the Pelicans a ton this year, but more than one bench player needs to step up for this team. Alexis Ajinca has been stepping his game up lately, coming off the bench and putting up impressive numbers. In the Pelicans last time out, Ajinca finished with 14 points, but he played more minutes due to Davis leaving the game early. Then on Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers Ajinca finished with 19 points off the bench. He is becoming more comfortable with the Pelicans offense and shooting at a higher percentage. The problem is that the Pelicans need more than one man to step up, not just Ajinca.
The Pelicans do have more negatives than positives and that’s not the key to success. The plan for the Pelicans looks like they are going to continue to lose games and claim one of the top five worst NBA records this season. If that were the case, I would stick to that. The playoffs aren’t in the mirror for this team and the road to success doesn’t get any easy from here on out.