Pelicans still arguably lack the all-round talent to be considered a threat in the West…
The New Orleans Pelicans have one of the best young talents in the NBA on their roster, can Anthony Davis and his support cast lead them to the playoffs this season?
The Pelicans ended last year with a 34-48 record in the regular season which left them 15 wins adrift of making the playoffs. Such is the difference in competitiveness in the Conferences, that record would have pushed them to within four wins over in the East.
However, it wasn’t enough to compete with the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, but that wasn’t entirely their fault as injuries also played their role throughout the year.
In many ways it was steady development, and they will be looking for more of the same this year to edge closer to the 40-win mark and push for the post-season.
Anthony Davis is already on the brink of being one of the best players in the NBA
At just 21 years of age, it is hugely impressive that Davis is involved in conversations about the best player in the NBA. Having averaged 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season, he is undoubtedly set for a bright future if he continues to work at his game.
The experience of helping Team USA win gold at the FIBA World Cup 2014 this summer would also have been a huge boost to his confidence, and he will be expected to be a significant part of future success for both team and country.
Nevertheless, if the Pelicans are to enjoy a ‘break-out’ season of sort and reach the post-season, then Davis will need to stay healthy and become an absolute beast at both ends of the floor. The addition of Omer Asik this summer will provide him with defensive support, while Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers will hope to lead the way in the backcourt.
Aside from those stars, the Pelicans haven’t done much in the way of forming a solid core of players that can be expected to guide them to immediate success. However, they will be one of the better teams to watch this season, and having added some steel and experience, they could be a dark horse in the West.
Much will depend on the team’s ability to keep their roster healthy. Ryan Anderson averaged 19.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season, but he featured in just 22 games. In addition, Davis played in 67 games while Holiday appeared in just 34. Keep that trio ready to go, and the story could be very different this season.
Meanwhile, Asik will certainly prove to be a useful addition despite his offensive limitations and Jimmer Fredette continues to be an intriguing piece that floats around the league.
However, while all that is important, in the Western Conference, nothing is easy. Do the Pelicans have a complete roster to challenge the likes of the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Phoenix Suns for the last few playoff spots? Arguably not. The starting five looks very intriguing, however, the bench does not.