14-18 • 11th in WESTERN CONFERENCE
|F||23||$7,265,485||6' 8"||190 lbs||DUKE|
|G||31||$15,625,000||6' 1"||214 lbs||KENTUCKY|
|G||36||$13,486,300||6' 3"||200 lbs||DUKE|
|C-F||20||$4,862,040||6' 11"||220 lbs||TEXAS|
|G||25||$1,934,160||6' 5"||215 lbs||VILLANOVA|
|G||19||N/A||6' 1"||170 lbs||ALABAMA|
|G||23||$8,719,320||6' 6"||190 lbs||UCLA|
|G||22||$2,964,840||6' 6"||205 lbs||VIRGINIA TECH|
|F||30||$3,902,439||6' 9"||236 lbs||N/A|
|G||26||$183,115||6' 4"||215 lbs||SOUTH CAROLINA|
|C||27||$25,842,697||6' 11"||265 lbs||PITTSBURGH|
|F||23||$898,310||6' 9"||205 lbs||KENTUCKY|
|C-F||26||$1,676,735||6' 11"||250 lbs||N/A|
|F||20||$9,757,440||6' 7"||284 lbs||DUKE|
While the young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball remains intact for the New Orleans Pelicans, this squad underwent significant changes during the offseason. Below is a quick preview of a the new-look Pelicans side for the 2020-21 campaign.
The biggest offseason change for New Orleans came in the form of the departure of long-time servant Jrue Holiday. After seven long years with the Pelicans, the two-time All-Defensive guard was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Holiday made his way to Milwaukee to join reigning back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokunmpo as part of a four-team blockbuster trade. As part of the deal, the Pelicans also parted ways with Sam Merrill (Bucks), R.J. Hampton (Denver Nuggets), Zylan Cheatham, Joshia Gray, Darius Miller, and Kenrich Williams, and two future second-round picks (all to the Oklahoma City Thunder).
In exchange, the Pelicans acquired Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams, and three future first-rounders. Quite the haul for New Orleans.
The Pelicans lost a few guys via free agency in Jhalil Okafor (signed with the Detroit Pistons), Derrick Favors (signed with the Utah Jazz), Frank Jackson (signed with Thunder), and E'Twaun Moore (signed with the Phoenix Suns). They did sign two free agents in Willy Hernangomez and Wenyen Gabriel.
New Orleans selected Alabama sophomore Kira Lewis Jr. as the 13th overall pick in the draft. The 6-foot-1 point guard isn't expected to feature too heavily in new coach Stan Van Gundy's rotation, but he is a great prospect for the future.
It is worth noting that the Pelicans committed their future to All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, signing him to a five-year max deal worth $158.3 million.
The Pelicans enter the 2020-21 season with a starting unit of Lonzo Ball, Bledsoe, Ingram, Zion, and Steven Adams. On paper at least, that's a lineup that could potentially compete with the best teams in the NBA.
Key players coming off the bench will be Josh Hart, J.J. Redick, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Nicolo Melli, and Jaxson Hayes.
The New Orleans Pelicans play an uptempo game, which makes them one of the most exciting teams to watch in the entire NBA. Advanced statistics indicate that the Pelicans play at a pace of 103.89, which ranked fifth in the entire league in 2019-20.
During the 2019-20 season, New Orleans put up an average of 115.8 points per contest, which was also fifth in the NBA. Unsurprisingly, they put up the most shots on a per game basis at 91.6 (tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves), making 46.5 percent of them (13th).
This team loves to move the ball around. They averaged 26.8 assists per game, which was third in the entire league. 63.0 percent of their points were assisted, and they averaged 16.6 fast break points per game. They scored 49.8 points in the paint per contest.
New Orleans did not have the tallest of lineups, and as a result, they were able to secure just 10.1 offensive boards per game (19th), which translated to 14.5 second-chance points per game.
The Pelicans attempted 36.9 triples per game (seventh), draining them on a 37.0-percent clip (seventh). They also took 23.4 free throws per contest (15th), but they need to drastically improve their percentage from the line, ranking 29th in the entire league at 72.9 percent.
All in all, the Pelicans had an offensive rating of 110.5, which was 15th in the NBA. This is a pretty good representation of how this side was middle-of-the-pack last season. More efficiency on the offensive end in the coming campaign should help improve this ranking.
Defense was not exactly the Pelicans’ strong suit in 2019-20.
The Pelicans allowed their opponents to score 117.1 points per game, ranking all the way at 27th in the entire NBA. Only the Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards, and Atlanta Hawks allowed more points, and all three teams were below the .350-mark in terms of winning percentage (New Orleans was at .417 with a 30-42 record).
Teams that face New Orleans averaged 46.5 percent from the field, ranking 19th in the NBA. They also allowed their opponents to attempt 33.9 triples per game (15th), with 36.1-percent going in (19th). They also allowed the 23rd most free-throw attempts at 24.7 per game on 21.2 fouls per contest (14th most in the league).
The Pelicans averaged 7.5 steals per game (18th), while also swatting 5.0 shots per contest (14th). They also forced an average of 14.5 turnovers on a nightly basis (15th).
On the boards, they allowed their opponents 44.8 total rebounds per game (18th). 34.7 of those came on the defensive end (16th), while 10.1 were offensive rebounds (17th).
Taking all of this into consideration, the Pelicans logged an overall defensive rating of 111.8 last season, just 21st in the entire league. Their defense is not completely futile, but there's no denying there is a lot of room for improvement here.
As you may have noticed, most of this team's defensive stats rank somewhere in the middle of the league. This speaks volumes of their mediocrity last season on the defensive end.
Stan Van Gundy takes over as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans for the 2020-21 NBA season.
He was most recently the head coach of the Detroit Pistons in the 2017-18 season. Prior to that, he served as head coach for the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, leading the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009.
In 12 seasons as an NBA head coach prior to 2020-21, Van Gundy amassed a 523-384 career record. His winning percentage might take a hit initially with a young Pelicans roster, but the hope is that he’ll help this group develop and quickly become a contender through the talent they already have and all of the draft picks vice president David Griffin has expertly acquired through savvy trades.
New Orleans' most recent free agent signing comes in the form of 6-foot-9 power forward Wenyen Gabriel, who penned a two-year deal with the Pelicans for $3.4 million. Gabriel's deal stipulates that New Orleans will have a club option for the 2021-22 season.
Gabriel is entering his second year in the NBA this season. The former Kentucky standout started his career with the Sacramento Kings in 2019-20 before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers mid-season.
Gabriel played a total of 30 games last season, averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.8 minutes of play.
New Orleans brought on a couple of free agents in the offseason in Willy Hernangomez and Wenyen Gabriel.
Hernangomez, who plied his trade with the Charlotte Hornets last term, signed a one-year deal with the Pelicans for $1.7 million. The 6-foot-11 big man should provide some much needed depth to the squad's frontcourt.
Second-year power forward Gabriel signed a two-year deal worth $3.4 million, with the Pelicans holding a team option for 2021-22.
Other players who were linked to New Orleans in the offseason included Serge Ibaka, Harry Giles, and Denzel Valentine.
The Pelicans were one of the main players in what turned out to be a four-team blockbuster trade early in the offseason. The deal centered around former All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, who was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Along with Holiday, New Orleans also sent Sam Merill to Milwaukee. The Pelicans also traded Zylan Cheatham, Joshia Gray, Darius Miller, Kenrich Williams, a 2023 second-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The fourth team in the deal was the Denver Nuggets.
For their part, the Pelicans brought in quite a haul in the trade. They acquired Eric Bledsoe, a 2020 first rounder, the rights to swap for Milwaukee’s 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 first-round pick, the rights to swap for Milwaukee’s 2026 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick. Moreover, the Thunder also sent over Steven Adams to New Orleans.
Throughout the history of this franchise (starting in 2002, since their previous history in Charlotte belongs to the current Hornets franchise), the Pelicans have only gone as far as the second round in the playoffs twice. The first time was in 2008, and it comes as no coincidence that that squad represents the best Pelicans/Hornets team ever assembled.
That season, Chris Paul and Morris Peterson comprised the team's backcourt. Peja Stojakovic played the wing, while David West and Tyson Chandler formed the frontcourt. Bonzi Wells and Jannero Pargo were a couple of key players that came off the bench.
Coached by Byron Scott, finished with 56 regular season wins -- the most in franchise history. They defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, 4-1, but eventually fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the West Semis in seven games.
The Pelicans made several key moves in the offseason that had a significant effect on their cap space.
For starters, they signed Brandon Ingram to a max deal worth $158.3 million over the next five years. This season the All-Star forward is slated to earn $27.3 million.
The Pelicans traded away Jrue Holiday and the $26.2 million he was set to pocket this term, but in exchange, they also brought in Eric Bledsoe ($16.9 million) and Steven Adams ($27.2 million).
New Orleans was unable to renew the deals of Derrick Favors and E'Twaun Moore, who both moved on during the offseason.
All in all, the Pelicans are estimated to have a total cap of $130 million for 2020-21, which puts them above the $109.1 cap by a whopping $20.9 million.
For the most part of the 2019-20 campaign, it was JJ Redick who was tasked with fulfilling the role of the team's sixth man. The sharpshooting veteran did an admirable job coming off the bench, averaging 15.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists, while also connecting on 3.0 triples per game on a highly-efficient 45.3-percent clip.
It is worth noting that Redick will be entering the final year of his contract this coming season. Josh Hart figures to vie for the 6th man role in 2020-21.
To start the 2020-21 season, the Pelicans are playing a starting five of Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Steven Adams. JJ Redick and Josh Hart both play prominent roles off the bench and could earn some starts as the year progresses.