10 reasons to fall back in love with the Pelicans

Published: February 17, 2018

It’s no secret around the NBA the relationship between fans and the New Orleans Pelicans has been shaky at best. There is a lot of heartbreak involved. Time and time again, our hopes are built up and smashed by a combination of bad luck and bad decisions.

For a lot of fans, they feel like they are putting more effort into this relationship than their partner. They are tired of being hurt and they deserve better.

Despite things looking up for the first time in awhile, this budding romance hit a snag after losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury for the rest of the season, and it had some supporters swearing they were done for good. However, the Pelicans are trying to tell us that they have changed and that they are dedicated towards fixing this.

With someone new in the mix, the Pels are moving on and they are begging you to give them another chance with the promise of newfound chemistry. We’re in the All-Star break, and the boys spent Valentine’s Day holding up a boom box playing “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel outside our bedroom window.

Here are 10 reasons why we should consider falling back in love with the New Orleans Pelicans:

10. They are still in the thick of things

It’s easy to lose hope for a Pels fan. The team is currently the eighth seed in the West with a 31-26 overall record and teams like the Jazz and Clippers are just a game behind them as a result of improved play. However, the Pels are also a game behind Denver and Portland in the sixth and seventh seeds, and just two games behind the Thunder for the fifth. That’s just the nature of the beast that is the Western Conference. We should not expect it to be any different. Reaching the postseason with more positives than negatives is possible. Will it be extremely challenging? You bet. Remember the last time the Pels reached the postseason? It took a desperate buzzer beating Anthony Davis 3-pointer over OKC to get in.

9. Darius Miller and E’Twuan Moore are still lighting it up

Before last summer, I forgot Darius Miller played basketball. Now the guy is keeping his team in games by drilling ice cold daggers in crunch time from the bench. He currently holds the 10th highest 3-pt. percentage in the league, a spot behind Kyle Korver.

Three spots above Miller is E’Twuan Moore who is shooting 43.3 percent from beyond-the-arc, well above his career average of 38.8 percent. Moore has also demonstrated that he’s a crafty offensive player after adding that solid drive-in floater to his game.

8. Reunited with Mek and it feels so good

In an unexpected move, New Orleans brought back center Emeka Okafor to fill a front-court void left by Cousins. Okafor made his first start since since 2013 last Monday, and has been awarded a second 10-day contract in his comeback campaign.

The former Rookie of the Year has provided a physical presence on the boards, and still continues to provide his patented “back taps” on offense and demoralizing blocks on defense.  There’s much Okafor brings to the table that doesn’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet. At age 35, he’s a professional in every sense of the word and gives a presence of mental toughness that this group feeds off of.

7. Boogie is still engaged

Before becoming a Pelican, the criticism of Cousins was that he had an “attitude” problem. For a basketball fan like me in the Dirty South, give me a player with passion any damn day, a top 10 league player at that.

That “no fear” attitude has been a positive for this team. I was also jacked up to hear that Cousins reportedly called Anthony Davis from where he was rehabbing in Los Angeles and told him to start taking over games after the Pels went 1-5 in his absence. Since then, New Orleans turned in a 3-game win streak before the break, and Boogie has been nothing but positive despite being away.

6. Gentry and staff are still trying to win

It’s easy for fans to lose patience with a head coach when they feel like their team has talented players without much to show for it. The Pelicans certainly do have some frustrating losses on their resume, and criticizing a coach for specific problems in these times is more than fair. However, blind criticism shouldn’t be served without full context.

Alvin Gentry’s time is marked with prominent players missing time with significant injuries. He has had to restructure his approach on the fly seemingly since the moment he arrived due to injuries or after roster restructuring. Here we are in the All-Star break and he’s had to do it again since losing Cousins and gaining Nikola Mirotic. The team is still in the middle of a hot Western Conference race, and the team is four wins away from passing last year’s overall record of 34-48.

5. They like it fast

There are no positives about losing a top ten talent, but in a Boogie-less approach the Pelicans are currently playing fast and furious. ESPN’s John Hollinger presently has the Pels ranked with the NBA’s third fastest average pace (102.1) behind the Lakers (103.0) and Warriors (102.5). The Pels are also ranked with the eighth best offensive efficiency rating. Against the Lakers last Wednesday, we saw what they are capable of when they matched a franchise record in total team points in a 139-117 win.

4. Demps still has it

I think most of us agree the massive long term contracts awarded to centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca were mistakes, and sacrificing first round picks in trades have been risky without a ton of return. However, I will contend that GM Dell Demps has been low key killing it since the trade to acquire Cousins. Bringing back Miller from obscurity, picking up DeAndre Liggins for defensive help, signing Okafor out of nowhere and turning Asik and a first round pick into Mirotic and a second rounder are brilliant moves. It appears Demps has not only given his team immediate hope, but they have some hope on the horizon going into the offseason.

3. The Bearded Wonder

I flat out love watching Nikola Mirotic play basketball. As a front-court player, he’s just one of those multi-talented guys that give you a look from anywhere on the floor. He’s as smart on defense as he is talented on offense.

He’s known for his three-ball, but he’s athletic enough to be a great cutter. He can give you a lot of the things you lost with Boogie going out, including using his 6’10 frame to get a shot off over anyone from anywhere.

I feel Mirotic could fit into Chris Finch’s “island of misfit bigs” offensive system better than he did in Chicago, and he’s already professed his love for the City of New Orleans. Stay as long as you like, Niko.

Oh, and that beard is pretty sweet too.

2. Jrue, the bully

Maybe praising someone for being a bully isn’t politically correct these days, but it’s hard not to love the fact that Jrue Holiday is laying down the law of the playground since the coming of the new year.

We’re seeing an assertive Holiday that loves to score. Perhaps the best weapon in his arsenal is when he attacks the rim and uses his body to shield the ball from the defender. Demonstrative play is contagious and Holiday is being that guy for his teammates. David Wesley called Holiday a top 3 perimeter defender, and I’m inclined to believe that.

1. Anthony Davis is our man

A man out for our hearts, Davis is in legend mode. He wants us to believe. Davis can save us. 

The recent win over the Lakers was all fury. Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Thomas got kicked out, Luke Walton got kicked out and the Pels never quit flying. Davis did whatever he wanted: 42 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Legend mode. He’s averaging 33.4 points in the month of February and is building chemistry with Holiday and Mirotic.

As long as Davis keeps playing like he’s here for world domination there will always be a chance.

Alright, I’ll let you guys buy me ONE drink if I see you at the bar.


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