The New Orleans Pelicans haven’t had many things go their way in a while and prized free agent Rajon Rondo is on the shelf already.
William Guillory of The Times-Picayune reported that Rondo now has a sports hernia, and it is uncertain how much time he will miss. That is a tough break for the Pelicans, who were counting on the veteran to be their starting point guard. Rondo has proven throughout his career that when he has talent around him, he’s a solid floor general.
It appeared that during last year’s playoffs. Rondo’s previous team, the Chicago Bulls, had a good chance of upsetting the one-seeded Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, that opportunity was squashed when Rondo broke his right thumb during Game 2 of Chicago’s first-round series.
Hopefully, this sort of injury bug doesn’t hamper the Pelicans’ hopes this season. For now, it appears that New Orleans will have to have Jrue Holiday play the point in Rondo’s absence — the length of which is unknown. That doesn’t bode well. Holiday has never really been a natural point guard, and he’s had some injuries of his own as a Pelican.
Holiday’s health has always been a question mark and, as Zach Junda of The Bird Writes illustrated in a recent piece, relying on him isn’t the safest bet. The guy has not played in more than 70 games since coming to NOLA, and now the Pelicans need him to produce every night to warrant his $126 million contract.
With Holiday manning the point as more of a perimeter scorer, the touches for the bigs are less of a factor. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are the primary options for this offense, and if Rondo has an injury-plagued season, this team will be much more isolation-oriented.
That is not how they will make a playoff push, considering the Pels were in the 31st percentile of teams in isolation last season, per Synergy. That’s in large part due to New Orleans not having enough consistent slashers or jump shooters who can create their offense.
I understand Rondo does not help floor spacing, but he manufactures shots for his teammates much better than Holiday. Rondo has a career assist rate of 41.5 percent, while only having a usage rate of 19.2 percent. Holiday, as a shoot-first point guard has a career assist rate of 31.9 percent with a higher usage rate of 23.3 percent.
With Tim Frazier now gone and Rondo having recent injury trouble, Holiday is going to need to prove his worth both as a scorer and facilitator. His consistent production has been a question mark the last few years in those areas.
That said, if both Rondo and Holiday are healthy most of the season, maybe New Orleans can make it to the Western Conference playoffs. If they want a chance to re-sign Cousins and keep Davis happy long-term, this Rondo-Holiday experiment has to work out. Will it? That is the burning question in NOLA.
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