by Will Overton
I am honestly a little bit surprised that the New Orleans Pelicans waited as long as they did to shut Anthony Davis down if what they are saying about his injury is accurate. This is already a lost season for the team and has been for a while.
Regardless of the timing, the decision has been made now and Davis is going to be watching the rest of the Pelicans games from the bench the next few weeks. Davis joins a list of other Pelicans who are sidelined, a list that also includes Ryan Anderson for now who missed last night’s game with a groin injury.
While the Pelicans team doesn’t have much to play for, there are players on this team who are going to get a big opportunity here who have plenty to play for and because of that they may make for some nice fantasy surprises come fantasy playoff time.
The most obvious guy who gets some kind of a boost is Omer Asik who should see some extra minutes, but more important will have more rebounds and blocked shots available for him. Asik still splits time at center with Kendrick Perkins, and still isn’t much in the way of an offensive threat, but for rebounding and shot blocking purposes he should be on fantasy radars.
Meanwhile, the power forward duties look right now to be manned by a two man team of Dante Cunningham and Luke Babitt. Cunningham has played 67 minutes in these last two games while Babbitt has been on the floor for 64 minutes. Babbitt is capable of playing the three or four spot an so he and Cunningham can and do play together a fair amount alongside Asik for a really long lineup.
Dante Cunningham has always been somewhat of an enigma to me. The guy looks the part for sure with his size and athleticism, but he just is so underwhelming when he gets opportunities like this one. There is some versatility to his offensive game with his newfound ability to step outside and knockdown a three every now and then, but his shot is pretty inconsistent and not something he’s likely going to hit enough to make a big difference, except maybe in head to head leagues.
Where Cunningham always seems to fall a little short to me is his shot blocking and rebounding where you look at him and think he can hang in the middle, but he always seems to get pushed around. Cunningham has 17 rebounds in his last three games which isn’t terrible, but you’d expect more from a power forward playing this many minutes. The quantity of minutes should help get him enough rebounds to help you, but it’s not going to be what it should be.
With Luke Babbitt you have another guy who gets even fewer blocked shots, and probably about the same amount of rebounds, maybe one or two more. Babbitt looks to be a bit more assertive on offense though and has a little more range to his game as well so you can actually count on him for threes, or at least some of them.
If I am picking between Babbitt and Cunningham I would likely lean more towards Babbitt because I think he can be a more consistent presence on offense and at least get the same amount of rebounds. Neither are great options, but both of them with their quantity of minutes have some value.