The 2013-2014 NBA season was an unsuccessful one for the New Orleans Pelicans. Therefore, the staff needs to start cleaning house if this team wants to make the playoffs next season.
Anthony Davis had an outstanding year, and he isn’t ready to make an early exit from this team. However, in my mind there are a few players who are on the fence of staying/ leaving the Pelicans’ roster.
Five Players to Keep
1. Al-Farouq Aminu
Al-Farouq Aminu is an unrestricted free agent as of right now, but the Pelicans need to secure him up for a few more years. He is considered to be the least injury prone player on the Pelicans team. Last season he played a total of 80 games, and started 65 of those games. This small forward isn’t the most efficient on the offensive side of the ball, as he averaged 7.2 points per game last season. But on the defensive side of the basketball he averaged 6.2 rebounds, which ranked almost second on the team behind Davis. He doesn’t contribute points-wise, but he can stay healthy, he can rebound and play defense. That’s exactly what the Pelicans need going into next season.
2. Alexis Ajinca
Alexis Ajinca isn’t a household name in the NBA community, but he is one of the tallest players in the league. He stands 7 feet 2 inches in his Pelican uniform and averaged 5.9 points per game while grabbing 4.9 rebounds a game last season. If Ajinca can improve his offensive skills this upcoming offseason, and gain more muscle he can become a valuable player for the Pelicans in the future. The 25-year-old from France is under the Pelicans’ wing for another year.
3. Luke Babbitt
Luke Babbitt was only with the Pelicans for 27 games last season, but is another young player that the Pelicans need to keep around for the future. He averaged almost 18 minutes last season, while scoring 6.3 points a game and snagging 3.3 rebounds a game. He also attempted the third most three-pointers on the roster. If the Pelicans part ways with Eric Gordon, then Babbitt can become more of a threat off the bench. He’s under contract for the 2014-2015 season, and the Pelicans can use his three-point game.
4. Brian Roberts
Depth at the point guard position is not a strength the New Orleans Pelicans have. Brian Roberts and Jrue Holiday are the only point guards currently on the roster. Now that’s a problem, considering Holiday only played 34 games last season before injuring his leg.
Roberts just finished his second year in the league, but he’s 28 years old. However, the Pelicans need to keep him around because he was the number one option at point guard this season. He understands the system and when the Pelicans draft a point guard in this year’s draft, Roberts will be able to help that young player out. Roberts averaged 9.4 points per game, but isn’t the assist machine like Holiday is.
5. Jeff Withey
If the Pelicans want to make any offseason trades they have plenty of ammo at the center position. Jeff Withey didn’t exceed expectations last season, but that doesn’t mean the Pelicans should pull the plug on him yet. Withey averaged 11.8 minutes this past season while scoring 3.3 points a game and grabbing 2.4 rebounds a game.
Withey was never able to get in his groove, because all the other centers were cutting into his playing time. Withey isn’t a number one center, but he can be a valuable center coming off the bench. He has a great shot blocking ability and has a solid defensive game. If he can improve his post moves during the offseason the Pelicans will have no problem with keeping him locked up.