2015-16 NBA Previews – Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have found themselves as every year playoff hopefuls, but they just can’t seem to get over the hump. With Anthony Davis coming into his own, Tyreke Evans looking to return to his historical rookie year form, and Alvin Gentry taking over as head coach, this could be the year of the Pelican.
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New Orleans Pelicans Season Preview
Head Coach: Alvin Gentry
2014 Record: 45-37
Pelicans Odds to NBA Title: 45-1
Pelicans Odds to Win Conference: 20-1
The most obvious strength for this Pelicans team is simply Anthony Davis, who was voted as the best power forward in the annual NBA general manager survey just a week ago. His talent is incomparable in a league that you could argue is growing short on power forward talent.
He’s only 22-years-old and getting better with every year that goes by. Davis is a mismatch every single game; it’s a dominant thing to have on your team.
Another great, underrated piece to this team is jack-of-all-trades point guard/shooting guard/small forward Tyreke Evans. He left the Sacramento Kings during the offseason of 2013 after posting historical 20-5-5 averages as a rookie in search of success in New Orleans.
Evans has become somewhat of a forgotten talent in the NBA thanks to his lack of shooting ability. He has been challenged to rethink his game as a 3-position player and it has been successful due to his passing, rebounding, driving, and defensive abilities.
Evans is an average number one option, but as a second option, playing second fiddle to Davis, Evans is playing in the kind of form that won him the 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year.
Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon are both great scoring guards in the league, but it’s their inability to stay healthy that is holding them, and the New Orleans Pelicans, back.
If they can stay healthy for a good portion of the season, the Pelicans will be poised to make some noise in the wild, wild Western Conference.
The biggest, most obvious weakness of the Pelicans is the aforementioned durability issues. Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday can be depended on to miss a few games every single year. Looking for a prime example?
There are currently seven players on the Pelicans’ injury report. Some of these injuries are minor, like Norris Cole’s nagging ankle injury, while others are more severe, like the knee injury that will hold Tyreke Evans out 6-8 weeks.
Another weakness of this Pelicans squad is their below-average team defense. Their defensive efficiency ranked in the bottom half of the NBA, nearly in the bottom third.
Davis is doing his part in the paint and Evans is doing his best on any one single guard/swingman, but there hasn’t been much help aside from that.
The Pelicans signed on big body center Kendrick Perkins this offseason, someone who will likely be depended on to clog up the paint and play some gritty, physical defense. This addition is a much needed one if the Pelicans are looking to increase their defensive efficiency numbers.
Pelicans Key Personnel Losses:
Not many moves were made by the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason. It seems that little things have just not clicked in recent years for this team, and injuries have not helped them with that.
Now with a new head coach in Alvin Gentry and another year of experience for this young team, the Pelicans will be capitalize on what they have failed to the do the last couple of years.
Leaving the team was college three-ball phenom Jimmer Fredette, whose shooting ability has just about vanished since his days at BYU. Point guard Tony Douglas found himself outside looking in, leaving the Pelicans and joining the Indiana Pacers.
Finally, Jeff Withey, the young big man who never found much time on the hardwood for New Orleans, signed on with the Utah Jazz.
Pelicans Top Newcomers:
Joining the New Orleans Pelicans for their 2015-2016 NBA season are the previously discussed Kendrick Perkins, who will bring some serious, mean size to NOLA.
Alonzo Gee, who has found himself on a number of teams in and out of the NBA, will be having his next stint as a Pelican. Don’t doubt this small forward’s talent though, he’s physical, fast, and high-flying.
Finally, everyone’s favorite 5’9″ rim-rattler joins the Pelicans; Nate Robinson. Robinson will be bringing some veteran experience to the Pelicans backcourt, filling the void left by Jimmer Fredette.
Pelicans 2015 Betting Prediction: 51-31
The New Orleans Pelicans barely snuck into the playoffs last season with a record of 45-37. Injuries played a huge roll in holding this team back from their true potential, and there’s no reason for me to believe that this will change this season.
A lack of depth will be a struggle for this team going forward, but any doubt you might have about this team will bring you back to possible MVP candidate Anthony Davis.
He has continued to develop every year and at the young age of 22 he’s looking better than ever. The depth seems to be slightly better this year with the additions of Perkins, Gee, and Robinson.
Even if injuries are as bad as last year, which were just about the worst in the league, there will be one man that will always keep this team afloat; Anthony Davis.
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