Pelicans and Saints injury woes are mirror images
Analysts and critics can call it what they may. Some fall on the side of bad fortune, others feel it is the process of investing in damaged goods while many feel like it is a combination of the two. The latter is most likely the most accurate assessment, though that is certainly open to debate.
When it comes to the overwhelming assortment of injuries to the Pelicans and Saints most recently and over the past few years, the injuries have clearly impacted, if not caused the consistent losing experienced by both franchises.
Consider the evidence at hand.
Quincy Pondexter underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Two years later, he had not played a minute for the Pelicans and he is now a member of the Chicago Bulls.
Eric Gordon went through a myriad of injuries and missed a ton of games, playing in nine, 42, 64, 61 and 45 games, respectively, in the 82-game schedule over four years in the Crescent City. Ryan Anderson was largely in the same boat, playing in 22, 61 and 64 games in his last three years with the Pelicans. Gordon played in 75 games for the Rockets last season, the most since his rookie season and the second most in his NBA career. Anderson played in 72 games last year, the second most in his nine-year career.
The Pelicans acquired Jrue Holiday from Philadelphia in 2013. It was later discovered and disclosed that he was damaged goods. The league slapped the 76ers on the wrist for failure to disclose the severity of Holiday’s injury before the trade. Holiday played in just 74 games in his first two seasons in New Orleans. While better, he has still missed 32 games the past two seasons.
Solomon Hill will go through a prolonged absence after undergoing hamstring surgery in August.
New Orleans invested in Duke guard Frank Jackson in the draft, a month after he underwent foot surgery. After drafting him, it was discovered that Jackson needed a second surgery on the foot in August. He is out indefinitely.
Now, the same is true of Rajon Rondo. Injury concerns loom larger for a player in his 14th year in the league, one who largely relies on his quickness and explosiveness to succeed. Rondo will miss perhaps a month with a sports hernia, which he reportedly underwent surgery for. Based on the timeline, Rondo will miss anywhere from 10-20 games to start the season. Then, he will have to play his way back into game shape and find his comfort zone with new teammates and a new system.
Without Rondo and Jackson, the big move of Holiday to the shooting guard spot has come to a grinding halt before it even began. Holiday must now return to running the show for New Orleans, which he has done admirably, but in average fashion by NBA standards. That means new acquisitions Ian Clark and Tony Allen will assume larger roles, along with E’twaun Moore at the two-guard spot.
Clark has promise but has never played many minutes, starting all of one game in his four-year career while averaging 4.5 points and shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. Allen shot 28 percent from 3-point range a year ago, his career average from distance as he enters his 14th season. Moore has started 68 games in six seasons, averaging 6.6 points per game while shooting a respectable 37 percent from beyond the arc. Still, that was a modest 75th in the league individually last season.
The phrase “bad luck to a good hunting dog” certainly comes to mind when it comes to analyzing the continuous injury woes of the Pelicans. Perhaps a player wasn’t totally engaged or motivated (see Gordon). There is the thought among some that the medical staff did not handle injuries well (see Pondexter).
Then, there is the obvious that the team invested in some players who were damaged goods (see Holiday, Jackson). At all times, in all professional leagues, you have to take chances. Some work out well, some do not pan out.
The Saints have certainly had their share of those as well.
This past season, they took chances on Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk and Alex Anzalone, all of whom has injury issues in college. Anzalone is already out indefinitely with a recurring shoulder injury from college.
In recent years, that was also true of drafted players such as Hau’oli Kikaha, Vinnie Sunseri, Khari Fortt, Ronald Powell.
Some will turn out well, perhaps very well. It is good to see Kikaha back playing and showing no ill effects from a third ACL tear. After brief bouts with injuries, Lattimore and Ramczyk are starters and huge building blocks moving forward. Here is hoping that the gifted Anzalone can return.
Sean Payton summarily fired a pair of team orthopedists for allegedly misdiagnosing a fracture in the leg of Delvin Breaux. That certainly raised questions about the kind of care the players were receiving. Of course, the Pelicans did not follow suit, keeping at least one of the orthopedists in question on staff.
The reasons are multiple, as are the injury issues for both franchises. The Saints have endured but how many more injuries can they withstand and remain a playoff contender? The losses of Nick Fairley, Zach Strief, Anzalone, Willie Snead, John Kuhn and Breaux would be a load for any team to overcome.
It has been tough for New Orleans of late.
The NBA team has experienced five losing seasons in the last six years while the NFL entry has four losing seasons in the last five years. For both franchises, it is time for some good luck to allow both to escape the doghouse of perpetual losing.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…