NBA Preview 2013: New Orleans Pelicans

UnknownTime for another team in my 2013-14 NBA preview here on the Sports Script. There have been plenty of teams covered in recent days, so make sure that you check them out before reading on. Today we have a team with a new name, and new identity. They made a bunch of big splashes in the offseason, and of course they have the unibrow leading the way, it’s the New Orleans Pelicans.

Key Additions: Jrue Holiday (Trade via 76ers) Tyreke Evans (Signed via Kings) Jeff Whithey (Draft)

Key Departures: Greivas Vasquez (Kings) Robin Lopez (Trail Blazers) Xavier Henry (Lakers)

Projected Starters: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Eric Gordon, SF Tyreke Evans, PF Ryan Anderson, C Anthony Davis

A new name, and a new look for the former New Orleans Hornets, now the New Orleans Pelicans. They had a very intriguing offseason, acquiring two big time pieces, who aren’t quite stars, but maybe enough to put this team over the top. First they got all-star point guard Jrue Holiday from the 76ers, who had a fantastic season last year, and while that sounds great, they gave up Nerlens Noel and a future number one pick for next year’s draft. It was a tough decision, and while I think Holiday will be very good for the Pelicans, I think the 76ers got the better of this deal, especially if the Pelicans don’t work out this year. Next they signed Tyreke Evans, who has an amazing skill set, big body, guard abilities, but strong enough to get in the lane. But he’s been very inconsistent since his great rookie year, and at 44 million, that’s a lot of money for a guy who might only average 14/4/4 on 40% shooting.

The starting lineup looks fantastic on paper, I will give them that. Holiday at the point guard gives them a legitimate point threat when he has the ball. Holiday is a good passer, shooter, slasher, just all around very good, and should continue to succeed, because the fact is he has more talented players around him this year, than he did in Philly. Next up is Eric Gordon, and he is an enigma. Has the potential to be a a top five shooting guard in this league, and was the lynchpin in the Chris Paul trade two years ago. But he’s been unable to actually stay on the court, and questions have even risen that he just doesn’t want to be in New Orleans, but is delaying himself intentionally. Well, this is the year to see if he wants to be there, he’s got a bunch of talent around him, now it’s up to him. Evans like I mentioned above, is really an enigma. The guy had an historically good rookie season, averaging 20/5/5, but actually continued to get worse as he progressed. He could be a great third or even fouth fiddle behind Holiday, Gordon and Davis, but it really comes down to what he wants to do. Ryan Anderson isn’t flashy, but he’s one of the best shooters in the game, and will give you 3-4 three balls a night, and his defensive deficiencies are masked by having this next guy beside him down low. Anthony Davis is the big piece here, and a lot rides on whether or not he can continue to make big leaps in process. Davis had a very good rookie year, and while Lillard was the ROY, Davis still has the most upside, and the ability to become a franchise center.

This is a very talented Pelicans team, full of young players ready to explode, and if everything meshes right, then they have a playoff contender on their hands. But I still see big problems. One is that none of those players have playoff experience, they don’t know how to win, and will need to learn on the fly. The second is they’ve taken big risks on players like Gordon and Evans, and whether or not they will ever pan out like they’re supposed to. But this is a talented team, so I will expect some success, but not this year. This year is a gorwing year, and there will be a ton of growing pains, But it will be worth it in the future.

Final Prediction: 35-47, 12th Western Conference

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