The New Orleans Pelicans would be the prime candidates if the NBA had a relegation system.
They don’t belong with the other 29 teams because of their pathetic start to the 2021-22 season.
In their first year under head coach Willie Green, the Pelicans rank 27th in points per game (100.5) and field goal percentage (41.4).
Worse, they’ve won one out of 12 games, an overtime victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Devonte' Graham on Willie Green's message to #Pelicans to maintain a positive mentality: "Keep your integrity. Don’t start pointing fingers. Keep fighting… You can’t give up your teammates. You can’t give up on the organization. It’s going to turn. It’s going to get better.”
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) November 12, 2021
Six of their losses were by double digits, including a 126-85 pounding versus the league-leading Golden State Warriors.
There are no other explanations for their futility except for the Pelicans being a dysfunctional franchise from the top-down.
It’s too early to tank the season, but it looks like they’re doing it anyway.
No Merit In Tanking
Yes, the worst team gets the best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery.
However, that’s not a guarantee that they will land the top overall pick in the 2022 draft.
Over the past 10 seasons, the worst team won the first pick only four times.
Pelicans might as well start tanking already 😂
— Vlad (@SIR_VLADY) November 8, 2021
The numbers do not favor the team with the fewest wins because they’ve won only eight lotteries since the process started in 1985.
The Pelicans won the 2019 lottery to land Zion Williamson, but they had the seventh-best odds and a six percent chance of getting the number one choice.
Therefore, the lottery will only increase the chances of winning, but there’s no assurance of getting the top prize.
Defense Is Non-Existent
Green called out his team’s lack of effort after their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That unwillingness to go the extra mile is highly evident in their lack of defensive tenacity.
Those three players moved on, and their on-court protection got worse.
— Lost to OKC at home tonight
— 1-11 record, worst in the NBA
— Worst net rating
— Worst defense
— 5th Worst offense
— Confusion around Zion’s injury
Oh, they also gave Steven Adams $35M and had to attach a first round pick & Eric Bledsoe to trade him a year later. pic.twitter.com/KPrkZ1v76x
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 11, 2021
Jonas Valanciunas is no Adams either in protecting the rim because he’s averaging 0.9 blocks per game.
Because they don’t have that gem on defense, the Pelicans surrender 111.9 points per game (27th in the league) and allow opponents to shoot 47.5 percent from the field (28th).
Their excessive fouling also led New Orleans’ opponents to convert 81.3 percent of their free throws, the third-worst clip in the league.
Terrible Pelicans defense, but Jordan Poole is so quick to run around the OPJ down-screen and pull the trigger for the three. When Poole has it going, he REALLY has it going. Microwave scorer. pic.twitter.com/W7xqnp7Ipr
— Joe Viray (@JoeVirayNBA) November 6, 2021
The Pelicans are not disrupting the passing lanes either, giving up 25.4 assists per contest.
There’s no need for further explanation after seeing these figures.
Playing the Pelicans is like setting NBA 2K22 into Rookie mode.
Top Players Sidelined
Valanciunas and Alexander-Walker are the team’s top two options during the absence of Brandon Ingram and Williamson.
Ingram carried the scoring load for the Pelicans until a right hip contusion sidelined him.
He already missed six games and might not return any time soon.
Without Ingram, the team is having difficulty compensating for his 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists per game.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) November 11, 2021
On the other hand, Williamson is yet to play due to injuries caused by his weight.
It’s deflating for the franchise to see their intended cornerstone unable to contribute.
He was brilliant when he took the floor, but injuries might derail his promising career.
In contrast, Ja Morant’s stock is soaring with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Zion – 317 lbs
Armstead – 304
Hurst – 304
McCoy – 314
Ruiz – 315
Ramczyk – 313
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) November 4, 2021
It’s difficult to see how the Pelicans will contend without these two players.
Having them on the floor will boost their chances of matching their opponents scoring-wise.
Bad Front Office
To drive home the point of the Pelicans being a lousy team, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin has to go.
He gutted the team for meager returns when he traded away Ball, Holiday, and Adams.
At least those three players gave the team a heartbeat.
David Griffin is so bad at his job that he has me siding with Windhorst. That's what we've come to. https://t.co/rxyNiWCvJI
— Kevin Barrios (@kevinbforbounce) November 2, 2021
Now, his moves took the Pelicans’ life away, and Murphy’s Law is in full effect.
There’s no end in sight for their struggles, and they’re in poor shape to compete because of questionable roster moves.
Therefore, it would be better for them to take a hard reset and start from scratch.