As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focusing on the New Orleans Pelicans, who last year had a record of 27-55 and did not make the playoffs.
Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Coach: Monty Williams
General Manager: Dell Demps
2012-2013 Record: 27-55
Place in Conference: 14th
Leading Scorer: Eric Gordon (17.0 PPG)
Key Additions: G Tyreke Evans, G Jrue Holiday, C Greg Stiemsma, G Anthony Morrow
Key Losses: C Robin Lopez, G Greivis Vasquez, G Xavier Henry, G Roger Mason
A new brand and new look will hit New Orleans this season, as the Hornets logo will be replaced with the Pelicans. Coming with that will be the league’s wildest backcourt featuring, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, and Eric Gordon, as well as one of the league’s most interesting young talents in Anthony Davis. After two years of struggling with the post-Chris Paul era, it looks like the Pelicans will be at least entertaining, and possibly even playoff bound. However, despite the improvements they will certainly make, there are quite a few questions still to solve before we believe this team’s a concrete playoff team.
Strengths: The Pelicans will follow the same offensive formula that the Hornets did last season, although with much more success. Monty Williams loves to run the pick-and-roll, and with Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans running the point instead of the chaos agent that is Greivis Vasquez, the Pelicans should be much more efficient than 16th in the league offensively. Rebounding also shouldn’t be an issue for the Pelicans, as Davis, the underrated Al-Farouq Aminu, and Jason Smith should only get better with another year of development under their belts, which is potentially scary as the Pelicans were already a top 10 team in ORB%. The Pelicans also have a solid long-term plan, with Anthony Davis as a future star, Jrue and Tyreke on reasonable contracts, and quite a bit of flexibility, even if they’re overpaying Eric Gordon and don’t have a 1st-round pick next summer.
Weaknesses: Interior defense could be a bit of an issue for the Pelicans, because Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson are the likely starters, and that could be a bit of an issue in the middle. This is negated a bit by Greg Stiemsma, who’s decent in the middle, but even he fouls too much to really be a net positive. The other issue here is chemistry, which could be a problem early as the Pelicans attempt to juggle minutes for Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Tyreke Evans, and that’s not including the possibility that Austin Rivers is actually competent, or that Brian Roberts is actually worth regular rotation time. Tyreke Evans has indicated that he’s fine being a high-caliber 6th man, which helps, but with Eric Gordon’s moodiness and potential on-court spacing issues, the guard rotation could be a big hitch for the Pelicans, at least early in the season.
2013-2014 Season Predictions:
-Will finish slightly above .500
-Will finish between seventh and 10th in the West
-Leading scorer: Anthony Davis
-Will bleed points defensively, but improve over the course of the season
-Tyreke Evans will finish Top 3 in sixth Man of the Year voting