The New Orleans Pelicans have a nice roster, but they are lacking depth at the small forward position with Solomon Hill potentially being out for most of the season, Quincy Pondexter just recently traded to the Chicago Bulls, and Dante Cunningham opting out of his deal earlier in the off-season.
Last year, Hill was bought in last off-season to provide a perimeter threat and be that 3-and-D, but this hamstring tear will keep him out for the next four to six months. He averaged a flat seven points and shot a career high 38 percent from behind the arc in 80 games (71 starts).
Now, with Hill out and Pondexter traded away. The Pelicans are left with a void in the rotation. The only player other than Hill that can play the small forward position is versatile guard E’Twaun Moore, which he has never played the three spot before being placed there via ESPN’s depth chart.
Furthermore, the Pelicans need to look out on the market for some small forward help and they have quite a few names out there including Tony Allen, Shabazz Muhammad, and Dante Cunningham.
First, Tony Allen is more of a shooting guard, but he is one of the league’s best defenders and he can cover small forwards as well. Honestly, do not expect him to score, which is maybe one reason why he is still out in the open market, plus his age (35).
Next option is Shabazz Muhammad (24), who could duplicate Hill’s seven points per game or be an improvement and hit double digits on the scoring sheet. Muhammad is sort of a weak defender, but can hold his own when he defends less advanced shooters. He scored 9.9 points per game last year, which was solid with all the other young Timberwolves seeing more of an opportunity to score.
The third option is a reunion with Dante Cunningham (30). He is probably the most balanced player of this three-man list I prepared. He knows the system the team runs and has a relationship with the current players on the roster. The former Villanova product turned down his player option and he is now receiving interest from the Pelicans, Timberwolves, and Bucks. Lastly, in 212 total games for New Orleans, Cunningham has averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Overall, I see the team reuniting with Dante Cunningham, as they are comfortable with his services and know he is a solid two-way player. The team needs a swing player like Cunningham, who can play both the small and power forward positions, as the main backup to Anthony Davis is Cheick Diallo.