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NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – New Orleans Pelicans: ‘BROW’sing Expectations

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Sep 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; (editors note: caption correction) New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Tyreke Evans (1) and head coach Alvin Gentry pose for a portrait with head coach Alvin Gentry during media day at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; (editors note: caption correction) New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Tyreke Evans (1) and head coach Alvin Gentry pose for a portrait with head coach Alvin Gentry during media day at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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Sep 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; (editors note: caption correction) New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Tyreke Evans (1) and head coach Alvin Gentry pose for a portrait with head coach Alvin Gentry during media day at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; (editors note: caption correction) New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Tyreke Evans (1) and head coach Alvin Gentry pose for a portrait with head coach Alvin Gentry during media day at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; (editors note: caption correction) New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Tyreke Evans (1) and head coach Alvin Gentry pose for a portrait with head coach Alvin Gentry during media day at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – New Orleans Pelicans BROWsing Expectations

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents. Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profile:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview: New Orleans Pelicans:

2015-16 Record: 30-52

Playoffs:

Missed playoffs finished 12th in NBA Western Conference

Points Per Game: 102.7 (13th )

Opponent Points Per Game:  106.5 (26th)

Oct 1, 2016; Bossier City, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham (33) come back onto the court after a time out against the Dallas Mavericks during a game at CenturyLink Center. New Orleans won 116-102. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Pace: 96.8 (9th )

Offensive Rank: 105.6 (18th )

Defensive Rank:  109.5 (27th)

Three Point Rank:  36.0% (9th)

Rebounds: 42.6  (22nd)

Assists: 22.2 (17th)

Steals: 7.7 (16th)

Blocks: 4.2 (23rd)

Turnovers: 13.4 (8th)

Next: Future postioning - draft, free agents

Dec 12, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Tyreke Evans (1) and guard Jrue Holiday (11) celebrates after a shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Cavaliers 119-114. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Unrestricted:

Tyreke Evans

Dec 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) drives to the basket while defended by New Orleans Pelicans forward Tyreke Evans (1) and guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

  • Jrue Holiday
  • Lance Stephenson

    Terrence Jones

    Future Draft Picks

    See Real GM for full details:

    Incoming:

    • 2017 second round draft pick from Philadelphia Philadelphia’s 2017 2nd round pick to New Orleans [New Orleans-Philadelphia, 12/24/2015]

    Outgoing:

    • 2017 second round draft pick to Minnesota New Orleans’ 2017 2nd round pick to Minnesota protected for selections 31-55 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then New Orleans’ obligation to Minnesota will be extinguished) [Minnesota-New Orleans, 7/13/2012]

    Average Age of Team: 26.4 years

    Next: Off Season Moves

    Oct 29, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) knocks the ball loose from New Orleans Pelicans power forward Terrence Jones (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    Draft Picks

    Round 1: Buddy Hield (6)

    Round 2: Cheick Diallo (33)

    2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

    Unrestricted:

    Moves made following July 1, 2016:

    Incoming:

    Exiting:

    Re-upping:

    Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

    Oct 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield (24) against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Vegas over-under for wins: 36.5

    Schedule strength:

    As ranked by ESPN: 7th with 1.86 extra losses

    The Pelicans have a moderate schedule structurally and in fact are tied for a league-high 19 games with two or more days’ rest. Alas, they also share a division with the Spurs, Mavs, Rockets and Grizzlies.

    Games versus Rockets:

    • Friday December 16th at Toyota Center, Houston, TX at 8PM EST
    • Thursday February 23rd at Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA, at 8PM EST
    • Friday March 17th at Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA, at 8PM EST
    • Friday March 24th at Toyota Center, Houston, TX at 8PM EST

    Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 15th

    Alvin Gentry has made noise about sliding Davis to center more, and the Pellies should have the wing depth to pull that off once Evans and Quincy Pondexter get healthy. And yet, there is something endearing about Omer Asik. He sweats a lot, he looks exactly like Chef Linguini from “Ratatouille,” and we normal lugs can relate to any NBA player who struggles just to hold onto the ball. (New Orleans needs to load Asik up with wristbands so his hands don’t get sweaty.)

    Seriously can Zach Lowe write everything I read? The above Asik reference had me giggling from the shear imagery.

    Next: Team Overview

    Dec 20, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans players (left to right) Jrue Holiday and Omer Asik and Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis look on from the bench during the second half of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Smoothie King Center. The Trail Blazers defeated the Pelicans 114-88. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    2016 Committed Salary

    2016: $95,046,067 – 19th ranked

    2017: $73,824,028 – 17th ranked

    Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

    Starting 5:

    Point Guard:  Jrue Holiday -16.8 points,  6.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds,

    Shooting Guard:  Tyreke Evans – 15.2 points,   6.6 assists,, 5.2 rebounds

    Small Forward: Dante Cunningham – 6.1 points, 1.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds

    Power Forward:  Anthony Davis – 24.3 points, 1.3 assists,10.3  rebounds

    Center: Omer Asik – 4.0 points,  0.4 assists, 6.1 rebounds

    NOTE: with Holiday and Evans out to start the season Fraser and Moore will likely man their starting posts until they return

    Reserves:

    Guards: Tim Frazier, E’Twaun More, Lance Stephenson

    Wings: Buddy Hield, Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, Cheick Diallo

    Bigs: Alexis Ajinca, Terrence Jones, Quincy Pondexter

    Injury News:

    • Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely as he assists with his wife’s return to health following successful brain surgery last week.
    • Tyreke Evans revealed he developed a blood clot following his last knee surgery, targeting December
    • Quincy Pondexter remains out following knee surgery (targeting January)

    All injury news as per rotoworld

    Next: Strengths, Weaknesses, Prediction

    Sep 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans Anthony Davis (23) and head coach Alvin Gentry (R) pose for a portrait during media day at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Strengths:

    Anthony Davis:  Take a look at the stats from 2015-16 and you’ll find one player finished in the top ten of scoring, rebounding and blocks… Davis.  The Brow definitely can fill up a box score, but can he stay healthy and lead a team?  He definitely has motivation given what happened last season.  Despite Davis’ production he failed to make an All NBA Team. That omission cost him $24 million dollars when it comes time to renew his contract as part of the Rose clause in the CBA.

    “Derrick Rose” Rule. In a rule named after Derrick Rose, accomplished players coming off their rookie contract could earn more money in the 2011 CBA. A Designated Player may be eligible to earn 30% of the salary cap (rather than the standard 25%) if he passes certain criteria.”

    Alvin Gentry:  His rookie season got derailed because of the myriad of injuries in New Orleans, but the head coach will hope to implement his high octane offense this season while improving the deplorable defense.  Following last season’s disappointment which was beyond Gentry’s control he ironically finds himself on the hot seat. Depending on how much the team improves Gentry could find himself looking for work by season end.

    Future potential: There are a number of quality assets on this team. Obviously Davis, but dig deeper and the backcourt of Holiday and Evans is more than serviceable.  Adding Buddy Hield this season should offer a 3-point specialists to help spread the floor for Davis. Now – can they play defense?

    Weaknesses:

    Start season depleted:  Jrue Holiday won’t begin the season with the team as he takes time off to be with his wife Lauren and their baby girl. For those not familiar Lauren gave birth and shortly after had surgery to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor. Still brain surgery is brain surgery so the Holiday’s aren’t taking anything for grated and thankfully the Pelicans are letting Jrue take as much time as necessary.

    Evans who is out rehabbing from yet another knee surgery also won’t be available until December likely.  Tyreke reported this summer he developed a clot following his last knee surgery, so the team will likely take major precautions and not rush him back.

    Quincy Pondexter is the other key player who is out until January with injury.

    Add those 3 players up and you can understand why the Pelicans begin the season at a deficit. Can Davis keep them close until their return?

    Will Davis have patience?: As much as I believe Buddy Hield offers the perfect “Robin” to Anthony Davis’ “Batman”, this team still feels like it’s further behind than the T-Wolves, Jazz or Nuggets. Since drafting Davis (and despite their one playoff round) they’ve never really found an identity. Sure injuries played a role, but they still need to figure out who they are and Davis needs to figure out how to lead.

    In fact, I’m so confused regarding what their style and identity is I don’t even know what to suggest for them other than a veteran leader along the lines of a Dwyane Wade type.

    Loss of shooters and lack of depth: As Houston Rockets fans know all too well the Pelicans lost two major pieces of their offense. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson missed time to injury last season but when healthy contributed over 30 points a game.  Rookie Buddy Hield will be a contributor, but expecting him to replace that 30 points per game is a big ask.

    Prediction:

    Best Case: It feels like a stretch to think the Pelicans will be able to stay in the mix until Holiday, Evans and Pondexter return. If Davis can lead the depleted squad to a .500 record the Pelicans may be able to compete for the 8 seed.

    Worst Case: It’s likely the Pelicans are lottery bound again. What will make this summer interesting is who will enter free agency. Surely Jrue Holiday will reward the franchise for giving him unlimited time off, but there are no guarantees.  In addition Evans, Stephenson and Jones will all be free agents.

    Bottom line this team has too many road blocks given the injuries and need to improve defensively while also finding enough offense to remain in games.  The Pelicans will return to the lottery and then cross their fingers they land a solid prospect in the very deep 2017 draft to pair with Davis and Hield.

    FanSided Affiliate Site: Pelican Debrief

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