The New Orleans Pelicans endured an injury-riddled 2016-17 campaign though the numbers paint a picture of a step forward in health. The team finished the year with 180 games lost to injury, the third highest total in the league. However, 135 games lost separated them from the Sixers, the team ahead of them in the rankings. Last year’s total was nearly 200 games better than the dreadful 2015-16 season and weighed down by two injuries outside the control of Duane Brooks and his staff.
Swingman Quincy Pondexter missed 82 games for the second straight season but it has been revealed that a MRSA infection delayed his recovery from his 2016 cartilage replacement surgery. Furthermore, big man Omer Asik missed 25 games with a bacterial infection and has since been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s is a difficult disease to manage and can be debilitating for athletes, though Larry Nance Jr. of the Lakers has successfully learned to cope with the condition during his playing career.
If the games lost attributed to Pondexter and Asik are removed, the Pelicans overall health looks drastically different. Furthermore, All-Stars Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday combined to miss just nine games to injury after multiple injury-plagued seasons.
The new season comes with new challenges as the front office added guards Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen, two veterans with lengthy histories of knee problems. Furthermore, rookie Frank Jackson is already expected to miss time after undergoing not one but two surgeries on his right foot. These issues could limit a team in desperate need of depth behind their trio of Holiday, Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins.