A brief history of Quincy Pondexter‘s time with the New Orleans Pelicans and how his contributions go beyond a box score.
When discussing the New Orleans Pelicans, fans and pundits alike always pine for New Orleans to sign a “3&D” guy.
They ask for someone to play defense and knock down an open shot. Someone to not be flashy or need the ball in his hands on every play. Someone to be a “glue” guy, while doing all the dirty work and intangibles that allow players like Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans to shine.
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Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps often gets critique for failing to sign a player in this mold.
The thing is, Demps has signed this player. Unfortunately, he has been dealing with injury since the Pelicans were knocked out of the 2015 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State.
In the playoff push that closed the 2014-15 season, Quincy Pondexter was that guy. Did he play at an All-Star level? No. Will his Basketball-Reference.com grid make your eyebrows perk up? Absolutely not. But in the 44 games New Orleans played after acquiring him in January 2015, the Pelicans went 27-18. That was good enough for an eighth seed in the West.
No one is saying that Pondexter is solely responsible for that surge. But Pondexter was the missing piece. The Pelicans need a guy who could spread the floor, not clog the lane and be a net positive on defense. Pondexter checked all three boxes. In Pondexter, Demps saw a player who could make the team around his burgeoning superstar one step closer to whole.
In fact, Demps saw Pondexter’s value before anyone else when he drafted the small forward in 2010. Pondexter played his rookie season with the then-Hornets, and even got some playoff reps in the team’s six-game first round series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pondexter was eventually traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in December of 2011 to acquire Greivis Vasquez in the scramble to “replace” Chris Paul. However, it is telling that Demps helped facilitate the trade that sent Jeff Green to Memphis just so New Orleans can get him back.
For my first piece on this site, I wrote about team/band dynamics in relation to the New Orleans Pelicans. The article was an argument for why the team should draft Buddy Hield. However, when outlining the team dynamics, I listed Pondexter as the team’s heart.
Even after the draft and free agency, that remains true now. Yes, the Pelicans’ free agent signings – particularly Solomon Hill – will help fill the void left by Pondexter’s absence. And they will bring the same hard work and passion to the table. It is still a question if they can help replicate the team’s success with Pondexter. But now, just like before, one of the missing pieces of a great team is on the Pelicans roster.