The Scouting Report: New Orleans Pelicans

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Projected starting line-up: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik (questionable, back), Anthony Davis

Key departures: Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Morrow.

Key addition: Asik

Terry Stotts was asked about the Pelicans during the Blazers Sunday practice and he brought up the fact that seemingly always gets forgotten about the 2013-14 New Orleans Pelicans.

“They missed a 150 games due to injuries last year of their main guys. Now they’re healthy and they have the team now that they expected to have last year and in addition they have Asik one of the best defensive centers in the league.”

The Pelicans were robbed of a season last year. Jrue Holiday played only 34 games, and the most any starter played was 72.

And the addition of Asik has added something that makes Davis even more dangerous. Asik is one of the best defensive centers in the league and allows Davis to create havoc without also having to anchor the team’s rim protection.

So far the Pelicans starting line-up is allowing 98.3 points per 100 possessions, a very good rating. But although New Orleans has played great, the play of shooting guard Eric Gordon is a troubling question.

The Pelicans matched Gordon’s max contract offer from the Suns in the summer of 2012. He had an okay season last year in 63 games, the most he’s played in a season for New Orleans. And if Austin Rivers keeps on playing efficient basketball and Gordon keeps up his sub 33-percent shooting from the field and 24 percent three-point shooting, the pressure might mount on Williams to make a switch.

For what it’s worth, the Pels third-most used line-up featuring Ryan Anderson, The Brow, Evans, Holiday and Rivers is a plus-minus monster while a similar line-up swapping Gordon for Rivers has been a negative according to

Rivers looks aggressive and attacks the rim hard off the bench. He’s had a lot of success finishing at the basket shooting 65 percent in attempts from less than three feet according to Basketball-Reference’s shot breakdowns. He’s also shooting 42 percent on threes to start the season. He could be in for a regression or he could be in for a breakout season. The Pelicans will certainly hope the latter happens. Jimmer Fredette hasn’t shot as well but won the job as back-up point guard.

Then of course there is Davis who is a two-way beast who is making me and others question whether he will be an MVP candidate this season. Davis is currently averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4 blocks per game. Just because I was curious, I ran the numbers on Basketball-Reference to see the players that had done that for a whole season and the results only came up with two: Kareem in ’76 and Olajuwon in ’92.

Although he’s been sick, I’m selfishly hoping for a Davis-Aldridge match-up because Davis is Aldridge’s biggest challenge in the NBA.

Peep the numbers in their head-to-head match-ups.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.02.24 PM

The Brow has had the edge and the two teams have split the six games the two have both played in. Aldridge is ill and may keep us from another match-up in a great power forward rivalry.

Asik also defends Aldridge pretty well and had the task of guarding him after the L-Train exploded in the first two games of the Houston series.

The Pelicans are a tough match-up for the Blazers and tonight will be a great test and probably the game of the night in the league.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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