Small Ball 2016-17 Season Previews: New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans- 30-52

Key Additions: Terrence Jones- Forward (1 year/ $1.5m), Buddy Hield- Guard (6th overall pick), Langston Galloway- Guard (2 years/ $5.2m), Solomon Hill- Forward (4 years/ $52m), E’Twaun Moore- Guard (4 years/ $34m), Lance Stephenson- Guard (1 year/ Partial guarantee), Cheick Diallo- Center (33rd overall pick)

 Departures: Kendrick Perkins, Eric Gordon, Norris Cole, Toney Douglas, Ryan Anderson, James Ennis, Jordan Hamilton, Luke Babbitt

The 2015-2016 season looked promising for the New Orleans Pelicans. The team was coming off a campaign in which they went 45-37 and matched up against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoff after clinching the eighth seed in the final game of the regular season. They had some nice pieces to surround Anthony Davis, one of the top players in the league. It looked as though the team was finally out of their rebuilding phase and headed in the right direction.

After the season, the team decided to make a change and fired head coach Monty Williams and hired Alvin Gentry. The team got off to 1-11 start and were never able to turn things around. IN a season that was marred by a number of injuries, Davis was not immune. He would eventually have to shut it down completely in March and set his sights on being healthy in the upcoming season. What was supposed to be a break-out season for AD turned out to be nothing but a waste. Twenty different players ended up starting for the Pelicans last season and by the end of the 2015-2016 New Orleans was a mix of D-League caliber players and banged up vets.

This was a season when Davis was supposed to be an MVP candidate and help lead the team to what many felt would be a sixth place finish in the powerful Western Conference. Instead, the team caught a case of the injury bug and ended up falling into the lottery. For Gentry, that’s not the way you want your first season to go, especially with the expectations that this team had. Many will give him, and the Pelicans, a pass for their underwhelming performance last season, but this year the expectations are back and it’s time for New Orleans to step up.

Season Outlook:

After a disappointing season, the Pelicans went out and had a fantastic offseason in hopes of regaining their 2015 spark that helped boost them into the playoffs. When you think of this team, your focus is always on Anthony Davis. Even though he is the face of the franchise, the team needs more talent to put around him in order to improve. Jrue Holiday is someone that needs to be healthy in order to help this team be successful. Over the past three season you’ve probably seen him in street clothes more that a Pelicans uniform. If he can find a way to stay healthy and return to All-star caliber form, him and Davis could be a nice one-two punch down in The Big Easy. The team will have to start the season off without him for a number of off-court reason that you have to respect. You hope to see a guy like that make a triumphant return back to the hardwood mid-season.

Along with what the team already had on their roster, a number of newcomers look to help the depth of the team. Buddy Hield will be one of the more intriguing offseason additions to watch. Coming off an unbelievable season at Oklahoma, the sixth overall pick will be looked upon to be a reliable roll player who can help spread the floor with his perimeter shooting. It will take time for him to adjust to the league, but with time his ability to score the ball should be a valuable asset alongside Davis.

The team also added five other fresh faces to the roster this offseason including Terrence Jones and Langston Galloway. The main reason for this summer being so successful was due to all the additions the team made without breaking the bank. They now have some pieces in place that can help this team thrive in future years. Davis needs to stay healthy this season in order to see what potential this team truly has. If he can stay healthy and allow this unit to gain some chemistry, it wont be long before this team is back in the playoffs.

Prediction: 36-46

The NBA needs Anthony Davis in the playoffs, but it won’t happen this year. This is a fairly newly assembled roster, and they’re going to need some time to gel as a unit and adjust to a new system under Gentry that is much more ball friendly and defense-oriented. Starting off the season without Jrue Holiday is going to be a hit to this team, especially since they aren’t sure how much time he will miss. You also can never be too sure about Davis’ health; he has never played more than 68 games in a single season. That’s something that catches your eye when you read through his career stats. The Pelicans will be better than they were last year, but there are too many variables to guarantee that they will make the playoffs. With that being said, they are moving in the right direction.


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