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Pelicans' Alexis Ajinca: Looks primed for backup duties at center
by RotoWire Staff | RotoWire

Ajinca came off the bench and produced five points (2-4 FG, 1-2 FT), six rebounds, one steal and one block across 15 minutes in Thursday's 114-111 preseason loss to the Magic.

Though Pelicans coach intimated early in training camp that Omer Asik, the team's primary starter at center last season, could be at risk of losing his job on the top unit, it doesn't look like that will be the case to begin the 2016-17 campaign. Asik ended up starting the Pelicans' final four preseason games, suggesting he'll retain the top gig at center while Ajinca settles for backup duties. Ajinca figures to get starting chances at various points in the season in the likelihood that Asik struggles to produce, but neither player will benefit from a consistent 30-minute role. Gentry often prefers to deploy starting power forward Anthony Davis at center during extended stretches of games, which will keep plodders like Ajinca and Asik off the floor in favor of mobile floor-stretching big men Terrence Jones and Dante Cunningham.

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Pelicans' Omer Asik: Appears likely to start at center this season
by RotoWire Staff | RotoWire

Asik started at center and produced nine points (4-7 FG, 1-2 FT), seven rebounds, one assist and one block across 24 minutes in Thursday's 114-111 preseason loss to the Magic.

Coach Alvin Gentry hasn't announced a starting center, but with Asik receiving the nod over Alexis Ajinca in the final four preseason contests, it seems likely the Turkish big man will claim those duties. Asik is coming off a miserable season in which he averaged just 4.0 points and 6.1 rebounds over 17.3 minutes per game, and would likely be off the roster if he wasn't under contract on an exorbitant five-year, $58 million deal. While he performed marginally better during the Pelicans' six-game exhibition schedule, it's unlikely that he'll notice a huge surge in minutes, as Gentry frequently likes to deploy starting power forward Anthony Davis at center over the course of the game. That's beneficial for Terrence Jones, the Pelicans' top big man off the bench, but works to the detriment of Asik and Ajinca.

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Pelicans' Terrence Jones: Scores 24 points in preseason finale
by RotoWire Staff | RotoWire

Jones compiled 24 points (10-19 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 2-2 FT) to go with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks across 29 minutes in Thursday's 114-111 preseason loss to the Magic.

Coach Alvin Gentry rolled out in an 11-man rotation in what amounted to a dress rehearsal for the regular season, and though the team ended up sacrificing a 23-point lead, little of the blame can be placed on Jones, who outscored all five of the Pelicans' other bench players combined. It's worth noting that Jones, who will open the season as the top backup to power forward Anthony Davis saw more minutes than starting center Omer Asik (24), which figures to be a frequent occurrence during the regular season. Because Davis is capable of manning the center spot, he'll share the floor frequently with Jones, who has made himself a great late-round target in drafts through his outstanding performance in the preseason. He averaged 17.2 points (on 46.4% shooting), 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 treys and 1.2 blocks across 26.0 minutes per game in four exhibition appearances.

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Pelicans' Buddy Hield: Will open season in bench role
by RotoWire Staff | RotoWire

Coach Alvin Gentry announced Thursday that Hield would come off the bench to begin the regular season, John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Gentry liked what he saw from Hield when the rookie worked alongside presumptive starting point guard Tim Frazier during the preseason, but because veteran E'Twaun Moore outperformed Hield in the Pelicans' six exhibition games, he'll be granted the top role in the early going. While he cooled off during the second half of the preseason slate, Hield was still productive for the most part, averaging 12.5 points (43.2%), 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 three-pointers in 27.3 minutes per game. That should allow him to hold down a high-minute role as the Pelicans' sixth man, and if he curbs his turnovers and shows improved three-point accuracy as the season progresses, Hield could unseat Moore for starting duties.

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Pelicans' Tim Frazier: On track to open season in starting role
by RotoWire Staff | RotoWire

Frazier tallied 10 points (4-11 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 1-3 FT), seven assists and seven rebounds across 36 minutes in Thursday's 114-111 preseason loss to the Magic.

Though coach Alvin Gentry didn't explicitly name Frazier the starting point guard to open the season, the fact that the former Penn State standout started all but one of the Pelicans' six preseason games makes him a mortal lock for a spot on the top unit. Frazier will presumably settle into a backup role once Jrue Holiday (personal) rejoins the team, but with no definitive timetable for that, he should enjoy an extended run as a starter. While Frazier won't be asked to score much, he should be an outstanding source of assists after averaging 7.0 dimes in just 26.8 minutes per game during the preseason.

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2015-16 Team Leaders
PPGAnthony Davis , PF24.3
RPGAnthony Davis , PF10.3
APGJrue Holiday , PG6
FG%Anthony Davis , PF49.3
FT%Ryan Anderson , PF87.3
3P%Eric Gordon , SG38.4
BLOCKSAnthony Davis , PF125
STEALSJrue Holiday , PG88
MPGAnthony Davis , PF35.5
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