Feb 13, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) handles the ball against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) in the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The New Orleans Pelicans won 110-108. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
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In the first of a two-part season review for the New Orleans Pelicans, we take a look at their backcourt players and how their 2016-17 season play out.
Starting point guard Jrue Holiday missed the early portion of the season. Tyreke Evans returned to the lineup mid-December, only to be traded to the Sacramento Kings along with first round pick Buddy Hield and Langton Galloway. Other players, such as Lance Stephenson and Wayne Selden Jr. quickly found themselves in the lineup and out even quicker.
The DeMarcus Cousins trade resulted in a depleted backcourt for New Orleans but the late-season addition of Jordan Crawford helped, and with the leadership of Jrue Holiday and solid play from Tim Frazier and E’Twuan Moore, New Orleans’ backcourt proved to be the catalyst for the Pelicans’ late surge as they tried to maintain their playoff hopes.
Mar 15, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) is pressured by Miami Heat guard Rodney McGruder (17) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
32.7 MPG | 15.4 PPG | 7.3 APG | 3.9 RPG | 1.5 SPG
The leader of the backcourt, Jrue Holiday enjoyed a bounce back season this year for the New Orleans Pelicans. After missing 107 games in his first three seasons, Holiday needed to prove that he could indeed be relied upon and did that this season as he only missed three games due to injury.
When he was in the lineup, Holiday was the Pelicans’ floor general this season and one of their tone-setters defensively on the perimeter along with Solomon Hill.
Holiday may have changed his status in the minds of the Pelicans brass from injury prone to pivotal franchise building block with his play and leadership this season. However, only time will tell. With Jrue Holiday set to become a free agent, the New Orleans Pelicans front office will have to decide whether Jrue is worth the asking price.
Jan 25, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard E’Twaun Moore (55) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo (5) during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Thunder defeated the Pelicans 114-105. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
24.9 MPG | 9.6 PPG | 2.2 APG | 2.1 RPG
E’Twaun Moore provided the Pelicans their most consistent bench play this season. He scored at just under 10 points per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.
On a team that didn’t prioritize the three-ball, Moore created additional value by being one of the team’s better outside shooters with a 37 percent average from three.
But it was his versatility this season that the Pelicans valued the most. Whether coming off the bench or starting (22 on the season), guarding multiple perimeter positions or playing the 1 or 2, Moore was a valuable asset for the Pelicans this year.
Primarily a 2-guard, Moore, created offense for himself and made plays for others. However, he wasn’t always as aggressive on both ends of the court as he needed to be this season and it is something he’ll need to address next season.
Mar 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) guards New Orleans Pelicans guard Tim Frazier (2) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Pelicans won 115-90. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
23.5 MPG | 7.1 PPG | 5.2 APG | 2.7 RPG
Tim Frazier started his 2016-17 season with the hopes of solidifying his NBA status after two short-term stints in Philadelphia and Portland prior to his arrival in New Orleans. With Jrue Holiday starting the season on leave, Frazier was given a great opportunity to start in his place.
He did well in the starting role. In the first 20 games of the season (all starts), he averaged 11.2 points, 7.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and a steal per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three.
Since then, Tim Frazier fell victim to the numbers game. Starting point guard Jrue Holiday was back, the Pelicans were looking to get first round pick Buddy Hield more minutes and Tyreke Evans just returned to the lineup after knee surgery the season prior kept him out of the lineup to start the season.
Frazier found his way back into the rotation after the trade for DeMarcus Cousins resulted in the departure of Hield, Evans and Langston Galloway. He stabilized a depleted bench unit and was a big part of the Pelicans’ late season surge.
Frazier has certainly shown enough to warrant a long-term home in New Orleans as their backup point guard going forward.
April 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jordan Crawford (4) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward Thomas Robinson (15) and guard Tyler Ennis (11) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
23.3 MPG | 14.1 PPG | 3.0 APG | 1.8 RPG
Jordan Crawford joined the New Orleans Pelicans in early March on a 10-day contract and did nothing but impress from the start.
In his first game, Crawford scored 19 points against the Jazz in a what was a losing effort, but in that game he quickly earned head coach Alvin Gentry’s trust by earning extensive playing time in crunch time.
Jordan Crawford lived up to his nickname “instant grits” as he provided instant offense for the Pelicans off the bench. He scored in the double digits in 17 of the 19 games that he suited up in.
Crawford’s impact was immediate and his clutch scoring, energy and surprising willingness to make plays for other guys was enough for New Orleans to sign him for the rest of the season with the option of bringing him back next season.
Apr 7, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Quinn Cook (22) dribbles the ball up court in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
12.3 MPG (9 GP) | 5.8 PPG | 1.6 APG
Quinn Cook was on the Pelicans’ initial roster when training camp broke last fall. He’s a young, talented point guard who has an NBA level skill-set and should be in the league for years to come.
New Orleans brought him back at the end of the season on a 10-day contract with the intent of re-evaluating him after completing his second season in the D-League.
Apparently the Pelicans liked what they saw from Cook in practice and in the nine games he appeared in late in the season enough to sign him to a two-year contract.
While in the D-League, Cook averaged 26 points, 6.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 39 games with the Canton Charge this season.
Feb 2, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) drives past New Orleans Pelicans guard Quincy Pondexter (20) during the third quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Hawks 115-100. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
No games played in 2016-17
Pondexter has only appeared in 45 games (all in 2014-15) with the New Orleans Pelicans since being traded midseason from Memphis. This season, Pondexter spent the entire year out of the lineup due to complications with the same left knee that has kept him off the floor since the end of the 2014-15 season.
After three major surgeries to the same knee, one has to wonder how the effects will impact Pondexter’s game.
According to Dell Demps, the Pelicans still have plans for a healthy Quincy Poindexter next season. He’s a proven veteran at the guard position who can shoot the three and defend. And if they are able to get him back next year, it’ll be like signing a free agent.
April 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Corey Brewer (3) moves the ball against New Orleans Pelicans forward Axel Toupane (10) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
20.5 MPG (2 GP) | 5.5 PPG
Similar to Quinn Cook, Axel Toupane joined the Pelicans late in the year out of the D-League. The 6’7″ wing from France is an intriguing prospect with potential as a “3-and-D” player who can also handle the ball.
Toupane will likely be a part of the Pelicans’ Summer League team along with Quinn Cook. If he plays well enough, he could remain with the team during training camp with a chance to make next year’s roster if the Pelicans determine they like what they see.