Pelicans Scoop: Previewing the Season

Published: October 24, 2016

As you may have heard, I’m the new host of Locked on Pelicans. There’s even a handy little link on the right on the site. It’s part of the larger Locked on Podcast Network. One of the great things about having a podcast on every team is we’ll sometimes come together to give you a larger overview of the NBA as a whole. As part of the preview all of the hosts sent in clips answering the same questions. (Listen to me talking about the Pelicans here.) But here at Bourbon Street Shots we decided to have some of our writers tackle the questions as well. Let us know what you answers are in the comments!

 1)  What are the 2 main storylines of the Pelicans season?

Jake Madison: “Health. Are the injuries just freak accidents, or is there something else going on that caused the Pelicans to have 351 games missed due to juries?” I don’t mean that in a conspiracy against the medical staff sense. It easily could mean, “are the Pelicans just this unlucky?” and “Can Anthony Davis reassert himself as a top 5 player in the league?”

Jason Calmes: For everyone else, “Can Davis return to or exceed his best season so far?” and “How good is the Defense?” For me, replace the Davis one with “Can Gentry prove his system can support Davis?”

Mike Pellissier: “Can the defense become average?” and “Does this team have enough guys who can create their own shots?”

Michael McNamara: “Who are the long term building blocks on this roster?” and “Will Davis assert himself as a committed leader, through good times and bad?”


2)  What is the biggest unknown?

JM: To me it is the defense. Communication, switching, rotations, etc have all been buzzwords this off-season. The Pelicans big free agent signing was Solomon Hill. Defense is the Pelicans’ plan, but I’m not sure it will come to fruition.

JC: The defense. They have better defenders, but defense is a team effort and a product of the system, too. We know nothing of what Erman is cooking up, how it tastes, etc.

MP: Where the frontcourt minutes go.  Gentry has said that the starting center spot is still up for grabs, and that’s because Ajinca is a foul machine on defense and Asik a space-clogger on offense.  Davis can only play so much center, and a rejuvenated Terrence Jones could challenge for serious minutes as a small ball 4.  Add in some potential Solomon Hill minutes as a 4 and you have a lot of variability in who is playing where in the frontcourt.

MM: The biggest unknown to me is when Jrue Holiday will return and how effective he will be when he returns. Not only do we not have an expected date of return, but we have no idea what kind of mental and physical shape he will be in when he comes back.


3)  The player most likely to be thought of differently at the end of season?

JM: I like Tim Frazier for this. He’s the expected starter and will be given an opportunity to shine. His pass first mentality fits the Pelicans’ offense perfectly. He’s looked good in preseason, and while he’s not starter caliber good, Pelicans’ fans will be happy with him running the second unit.

JC: Lance Stephenson. I’m not sure many players can change the perception of them as much as Lance can. He’s only been around a couple of weeks, but they have not been easy weeks and included an international trip. Seems like if he were a square peg, we’d know it by now.

MP: Tim Frazier. I think he sees the game better than anyone we’ve had in the last few seasons (yes, I do mean anyone). History says his shot accuracy is a worry, but I think he’s a good enough playmaker to be a solid backup point even if his shot leaves something to be desired.

MM: Omer Asik will no longer be seen as a terrible contract. He will be a guy who is viewed as properly paid with regard to the new cap. His production will be solid, and fans won’t be screaming to amnesty or waive him. Trading him might still be in the teams best interest, but it won’t be because his contract is utterly repugnant.


4)  If this happens the season will be great…

JM: There are two things here: Davis needs to play over 70 games, and the defense needs to jump into the top half of the league. Likely? Not based on recent history.

JC: The defensive rating is among the 5 best in the NBA.

MP: If Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis each play 70+ games, which seems unlikely for multiple reasons.  I’ve said for years that Holiday is our second best player, and having him on the floor has a huge effect on Davis’s game.  I don’t think people realize how good Jrue is.

MM: If Solomon Hill becomes the next DeMarre Carroll or Jae Crowder. This team has been missing a two way small forward since… well, I don’t think this franchise has ever had one. If Hill can become that guy, it will open up so much for the guards and Davis, not to mention it should vault this defense into the top half of the league.


5)  If this happens the season will derail…

JM: The defense doesn’t improve. Even if Davis stays healthy the Pelicans aren’t going anywhere if they can’t stop opposing teams from scoring.

JC: (ignoring injuries) The perimeter defense does not click.

MP: What Jason said. The perimeter defense has been awful the last few years.  Losing Gordon, Anderson, and possibly Tyreke (via trade or games missed) should help a lot, but even a sizable improvement only gets this defense to average.  There is a lot of work to do on containing penetration and closing out on shooters more prudently.

MM: If Anthony Davis goes down with a serious injury, the season is over. The entire off-season was centered around getting supporting guys that could help him, and that he can make better. If he goes down, you have one of the most talent deficient rosters in the NBA. He has to play at least 70 games this year, or this is a team looking at a top 5 pick.


6)  Most likely case scenario

JM: The mid to high 30’s in wins. If there is solid improvement on the defense this team can compete for the 8th seed. But I think the Pelicans franchise will be happy with tangible improvement defense.

JC: 42 wins, battling for fringe playoff seed.

MP: 38 wins and much more enjoyable basketball.  I buy the organization’s move towards players who can move the ball and work harder than past players.  I think this is a 7 or 8 seed if Davis and Jrue can play in 70+ games, but even if they can’t, I feel certain that this team’s brand of basketball will be more lively than last year’s.

MM: If this season was played out 100 times, the most likely occurrence would be the Pelicans starting off the season poorly, picking it up a little bit once guys return, a minor trade that gives them a small boost in January or February, and then they would play their best basketball in March. But because of the slow start, it will probably be too little, too late and the Pelicans will finish  with 39 wins, good for 10th or 11th in the West.

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