New Orleans Pelicans – Pre-Season Record: 7-1
Dare I say the New Orleans Pelicans (that name will take some getting used to) are the most intriguing team in the Southwest Division? Well yes, even more so than the Houston Rockets in my opinion. Now please, do not get “most intriguing team” mixed up with “best team.” The Pelicans will NOT win this division, even after finishing with the best pre-season record in the Western Conference. But they will be interesting to watch and I see them making the playoffs this year.
New Orleans has some of the most dynamic guards in the NBA between Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans. That backcourt is going to cause matchup problems for any team the league. If you add in any improvement from Austin Rivers, and you have yourself a very solid foundation before we even talk about the forwards. We all know Anthony Davis is a force on the defensive end, averaging 8 rebounds and 1.75 blocks per game last season. He should improve offensively as the year goes on and if so, you may see an all-star selection in store for AD this year. It looks like Ryan Anderson is going to come off the bench for the Pelicans this year, but he is another difficult matchup at 6’10”. Anderson averaged 16.2 points per game last season and will compliment Davis greatly.
The Pelicans could employ a Miami Heat style of lineup in which nobody really has a particular position. I would expect Tyreke Evans to play the point guard position a lot as that’s what he was doing up in Sacramento, even with Holiday on the court. Big men like Greg Stiemsma, Jeff Withey, and Jason Smith will fill the rest of the big man rotation to complete what looks like to me, a playoff bound roster.