The New Orleans Pelicans have talent on their roster heading into the 2013-2014 NBA season. The Pelicans have talent like All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, future All-Star big man Anthony Davis, fantastic-when-healthy Eric Gordon and the physical and athletic Tyreke Evans. You’d be crazy to deny the talent on this New Orleans team, but you’d be wise to question how things will work out.
Despite the wonderful pieces the Pelicans have coming into this season, there are still some weaknesses that the team has coming into the 2013-2014 season. As I’ve discussed many times before, one of their weaknesses is the center position.
In the middle of the off-season, the status of Jason Smith seemed uncertain as he was recovering from a shoulder injury, which left only Greg Stiemsma and rookie Jeff Withey at the center position in New Orleans. However, when Smith was cleared for training camp and the preseason, things started to look a bit more optimistic regarding the center situation in New Orleans.
Smith is no longer dealing with the shoulder injury, having played in four of the Pelicans’ preseason games. However, he’s now dealing with a hip injury that is still causing him discomfort. He can play through it and has already in the preseason, but it’s also something that could take a while to go away and keep him out of some games.
In those games that Smith misses, that’s going to put a lot of weight on the shoulders of the rookie Withey. Withey hasn’t seen much action in the preseason, but did play well in his biggest opportunity yet. On Oct. 13 against the Atlanta Hawks, Withey finished with six points, six rebounds and one steal in only 10 minutes on the floor. For limited time, that’s pretty phenomenal production.
Withey isn’t going to be asked to carry this team when he’s on the floor, but he is going to be a key cog when he enters the game. He’s going to need to be reliable, semi-productive on the boards and defensively, and not mess up in any glaring ways. If he can manage that, Smith’s occasional absence won’t be too detrimental. If not, Smith will be greatly missed.