NBA Off-Season Preview: New Orleans Pelicans
Record (30-52) The season for the New Orleans Pelicans came to an end as soon as it began. The Pelicans were thought to be even more dangerous than they were last season, especially with their new head coach Alvin Gentry leading the young team. The Pelicans were a playoff caliber team last season and were able to keep up with their division rivals. However, due to a slew of injuries to their starters and bench players, New Orleans quickly fell behind in their division. Hopefully, with a large part of the team returning from their injuries, the Pelicans can come back from an injury plagued season to become playoff contenders in the Western Conference once more. Anthony Davis is one of those players whose presence is always felt on the court, which hurt New Orleans when he was sidelined with a knee and shoulder injury. Davis fought through his shoulder injury for most of the season, but was still able to be a force on the court. Through 65 games, Davis led the team in both scoring and rebounds, with 24.3 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. When Davis’ injuries sidelined him in March, the Pelicans missed the strong offensive and defensive play he provided. With the Pelicans’ playoffs hopes dashed, Gentry decided to bench Davis for the remainder of the season, hoping to have him ready for next season. Another player who suffered from injuries, but had a pretty solid season, was Jrue Holiday. Holiday suffered from a leg injury for most of the season and was on and off the court because of it. When he was on the court, he helped Davis put some points up, scoring 16.8 points per game. He was also helpful when it came to shooting free throws, making 84.3 percent of them, and helping out with assists, dishing out 6 per game. The Pelicans were able to put points up on the board, but they had trouble stopping the opposing team from scoring. The starting center for the Pelicans, Omar Asik, was almost a non-factor when it came to offense and offered only a little help on defense, pulling down only 6.1 rebounds per game. Davis cannot be the only one on defense rebounding the ball and trying to block shots. New Orleans needs to find someone in the upcoming draft to help bolster their defense. In the upcoming draft, the Pelicans need worry about finding a player who can keep the other team from scoring easy baskets. This is why New Orleans should be looking in the direction of point guard Kris Dunn. Dunn is huge for a point guard, standing at six feet four inches with a wingspan of six feet nine inches. With his length alone, players would have trouble advancing the ball around him. Factor in his athleticism and a healthy Holiday working in tandem with him, and the Pelicans could have one of the scariest defenses in the league. Injuries were the theme of the season for the Pelicans. New Orleans lost many key players early, and they were unable to keep pace with their division rivals. The Pelicans also need to find more help for Davis and the defense if the team is to return the where they were just a season ago. It won’t be an easy task, but with their starters back and healthy, this team could return to their playoff form.
NBA Off-Season Previews
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics – Brooklyn Nets – New York Knicks – Philadelphia 76ers – Toronto Raptors Central Division: Chicago Bulls – Cleveland Cavaliers – Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers – Milwaukee Bucks Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks – Charlotte Hornets – Miami Heat – Orlando Magic – Washington Wizards Southwest Division: Dallas Mavericks – Houston Rockets – Memphis Grizzlies – New Orleans Pelicans – San Antonio Spurs Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets – Minnesota Timberwolves – Oklahoma City Thunder – Portland Trail Blazers – Utah Jazz Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors – Los Angeles Clippers – Los Angeles Lakers – Phoenix Suns – Sacramento Kings