Pelicans shouldn’t chase ill-adjusted players like Ben Simmons or John Wall



Well, it’s definitely been a while! Thanks to the effects of Hurricane Ida, The Bird Writes was forced to take a break, but now we’re back. And talk about good timing. The start of training camp is in less than two weeks. Before we focus on previews and predictions of all kinds, let’s first address this growing trend of tying players in need of new homes around the league to the Pelicans.

It is well known that free agency did not work entirely as hoped for David Griffin and company. That doesn’t mean, however, that New Orleans should be anxious to pounce on anyone who becomes available. If there’s one lesson to be learned from last season, adjustment matters, both on the pitch and on the selection sheet. So some people have to stop trying to make certain things exist. Pelicans, for example, aren’t ideal landing spots for Ben Simmons or John Wall, two names that were mentioned in the same breath as New Orleans this week.

Consider the players linked to the Pelicans at the start of free agency: Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Jackson, Doug McDermott, JaMychal Green, Lauri Markkanen, Bryn Forbes… do you still spot a pattern? All of these players are able to space the floor. Simmons and Wall, on the other hand, not at all.

That’s an important distinction to make up front if you remember Griffin’s statement that the franchise was going to prioritize shooting, tenacity and basketball IQ this offseason. Then there’s also the reality that Simmons, a wonderfully gifted player in so many ways, still remains somewhat of a project thanks to an incredible reluctance to shoot basketball or make the right decisions under extreme pressure; and Wall is on the wrong side of 30, not as efficient as he was before his Achilles injury, and on a contract that owes him over $ 90 million the next two seasons.

Photo by Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

Simmons’ defense is world class, but the expensive non-ground struts next to Zion Williamson have proven to be passive. Wall is a great distributor, but allowing him to hammer the air off the ball would keep the rock out of Brandon Ingram and Z’s hands far too often. And that’s what it boils down to: if a player who is given a significant part of the cap and responsibilities on the pitch doesn’t complement the skills and attributes of the Pelicans’ top two players, then what do we do? here ?

Seriously, the current plan is obvious. This is why we have seen a number of changes to the roster, which at times have come at a price this summer. Why the Assets Were Used to Send Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. Why an asset was spent to add Devonte ‘Graham. Why Trey Murphy and Herbert Jones were selected in the 2021 draft. And, yes, why there hasn’t been a big push to re-sign Lonzo Ball.

Now, there is no doubt that Ball has grown into a good NBA player. His jump shot is greatly improved and he has not yet peaked. However, an expensive contract price, a desire to play a bigger role within the offense, and massive fluctuations in consistency seemingly from match to match, his fit wasn’t as glove-like to match. New Orleans that many want you to believe.

Not counting the last three games of the regular season – when the game odds were practically zero so there was no need to play hampered regulars, the Pelicans posted a record 8-6 when Lonzo Ball sat down in 2020-21. Conversely, the team went 2-6 when either Ingram or Williamson weren’t available in the first 69 games on the schedule.

Did you know that the team’s field goal percentage was also higher (48.6% vs. 47.5%) in non-Zo matches during this period? Or that the defense allowed almost 4.0 points less per game (111.4 vs. 115.4) without a Ball in the night rotation?

Again, this isn’t meant to be an exercise worth Ball’s sub. He was a useful cog and the Chicago Bulls will benefit from his inclusion. However, it is fair to wonder what its future value was to New Orleans at its market rate before the transaction. Personally, I’m in the camp that Devonte ‘Graham will be more valuable to the Pelicans in the future – hey, that helps in the grand scheme of things that the front office signed him at a really good price – although he is not as established of a passer, rebounder or defender as Ballon.

To be completely honest I think too many people have mistakenly focused on the Pelicans complaining about all the big names in free agents and / or Chicago returning to the ball trade as the current roster is a favorable composition of players around the two cornerstones.

Cleveland Cavaliers v New Orleans Pelicans

Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

Along with my belief that Graham will prove to be more beneficial to Ingram and Williamson than Ball, Jonas Valanciunas is a definite upgrade central to this roster’s roster than Adams. For those who have watched often know the truth very well, no need to trust Bledsoe, Nicolo Melli or JJ Redick are real wins. Then, if Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes take that proverbial milestone in their third season after finishing strong in their second campaigns, Trey Murphy III proves that the Summer League was no fluke and that he can make a difference. something positive right away, and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart, Willy Hernangomez and Naji Marshall provide average production in their minutes, there’s a much deeper team that fits reasonably well around BI and Z. The teams can always use more shot, but if Willie Green can coax this group into putting the kind of effort needed on both sides of the court, posting a .500 leaderboard record seems ridiculously realistic. Remember, there was enough talent in last season’s roster to beat eight of the top ten winning teams at least once.

So here is. It might make sense for a team to take their chances with Ben Simmons and fix whatever is troubling him mentally. Or give John Wall a new lease of life once the Rockets tie up enough assets to make a deal worthwhile. But in both of these cases, the New Orleans Pelicans are clearly not the team that should take such a leap of faith.

For more pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on itunes, Spotify, Stapler Where Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.


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