Pelicans summer roster full of familiar faces
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is often known as a place for unknown and unproven players to show what they can do on the hardwood. Relatively speaking, though, the first-ever New Orleans Pelicans summer squad is an experienced group, with a handful of names that should be recognizable to hoops fans. A total of five players who donned a New Orleans uniform in 2012-13 will participate, along with a three-year NBA veteran with 150 regular season appearances already under his belt. Add it all up and the summer Pelicans have a combined 484 games and 10 seasons of NBA experience.
Below is a closer look at the 2013 New Orleans summer roster. The Pelicans will begin game action in Las Vegas on Friday, July 12, vs. the New York Knicks, at 3 p.m. Central time. Please note that this list of players is tentative and subject to change:
The 10th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Duke University product was playing the best basketball of his rookie year when his season was cut short by a broken hand on March 6. The son of new Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers appeared in 61 regular season games, including 26 starts, while logging 1,418 minutes. He averaged 6.2 and 2.1 assists.
An overseas star in Germany, the 27-year-old NBA rookie made steady progress in 2012-13, after first garnering attention from fans at summer league (average of 13.8 points). A starter in five late-regular season games, Roberts contributed a 13-point, 18-assist breakout performance in a March 25 upset win over Denver. It was a single-game season high among all rookies for assists. The Ohio native averaged 15.3 points and 7.0 assists in NOLA’s last four games.
Like several New Orleans young players, Miller received a greater opportunity to play during the second half of 2012-13. A reluctant offensive player for much of his rookie campaign, he delivered 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting in a 24-point rout of Denver on March 25. On the season, the Kentucky product shot an above-average 39.3 percent from three-point range.
A natural power forward, the Duke University product started nine times last season at small forward, prior to Al-Farouq Aminu gaining control of the first-string job. The New York City native’s individual highlight of last season was a 12-point outing he had in a loss at Brooklyn on March 12. Thomas led New Orleans’ 2012 summer league team with averages of 14.0 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Initially signed to a 10-day contract by New Orleans on March 8, the Oklahoma State product’s aggressive individual defense helped him stick on the roster for the remainder of 2012-13. A two-year NBA veteran, he spent 2011-12 with the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat, appearing in 22 games. He played 20 games for New Orleans last season.
NBA EXPERIENCE WITH OTHER TEAMS
An NBA reserve for three seasons from 2009-12, the burly power forward played a total of 150 NBA games for Sacramento and Milwaukee. When Brockman was a rookie with the Kings in 2009-10, one of Sacramento’s assistant coaches was Bryan Gates. Gates is serving as New Orleans’ summer league head coach this month.
PLAYERS WITHOUT NBA EXPERIENCE
Like 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year and Cherry’s high school friend Damian Lillard, the Oakland native opted to play his college basketball in the Big Sky Conference. At Montana, the 6-foot-1 point guard was named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year as a junior.
The 6-foot-3 guard is the sixth-leading scorer in the history of Rice. As a senior in 2012-13, he led the Owls in scoring and rebounding, ranking third among all Conference USA players in points per game (17.7). He is a cousin of New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton.
Similar to the Pelicans’ Brian Roberts, Lojeski is a late-20s prospect who is attempting to make another bid at reaching the NBA. The University of Hawaii forward was named to the All-WAC second team as a senior in 2006-07. He was the MVP of the Ethias League in Belgium in 2012-13.
A 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward, he excelled in college at UAB, where the Web site Mid-Major Madness assessed that Moore “plays defense like he’s a genetic clone of Anthony Davis.” The San Antonio native led Conference USA in rebounding and blocked shots as a senior. He spent 2012-13 playing professionally in the Ukrainian League.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward was a college teammate of Pelicans center Robin Lopez for one season at Stanford University. After going undrafted by the NBA in 2012, Owens spent last season in the D-League with Idaho, averaging 5.4 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Elston Turner Jr.
The son of eight-year NBA veteran guard and longtime NBA assistant coach Elston Turner Sr., the 6-foot-5 guard was an All-SEC first-team selection in 2012-13. The Texas A&M product paced the Aggies in scoring average (17.5) and was No. 1 in the SEC in minutes per game (35.6).