New Orleans Pelicans 2016-2017 NBA Season Preview
The upcoming season will be the 15th season for the New Orleans Pelicans. Two years ago, the young franchise did a very good performance that won them 45 games and made a postseason appearance.
In the 2015-2016 season, the Pelicans decided to replace Monty Williams with Alvin Gentry but the team struggled, their defense plummeted and they stood little chance without their superstar, Anthony Davis, due to injury. Davis missed a total of 21 games last season.
“This is the most frustrating season I’ve ever been through,” Gentry said in March. “When I left Golden State to come here, I thought it was the best job available.”
With Gentry’s leadership last season, he became from being an offensive coach of the Golden State Warriors to the “hamstrung skipper of the reeling Pelicans,” according to Bleacher Report. They finished with a win-loss record of 30-52, 15 losses more than the previous season.
Meanwhile, according to Basketball Insiders, the Pelicans were plagued with injuries last season that resulted them an early eviction. The team weren’t able to secure anything to earn them a trip to the NBA finals because of injuries and poor offensive and defensive executions. Dante Cunningham and Alonzo Gee were only the players who played 70 regular season games that year.
But the hopes are high for the Pelicans as they were predicted to have a healthier roster this coming 2016-2017 season. Offseason rehab and training are going to be a big factor in their roster’s improvement next season.
Staying: Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Tim Frazier, Alonzo Gee, Jrue Holiday and Quincy Pondexter
Key Additions: Quinn Cook, Chris Copeland, Shawn Dawson, Cheick Diallo, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones, E’Twaun Moore, Robert Sacre and Lance Stephenson.
Key Losses: Ryan Anderson, Luke Babbitt, Norris Cole, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Toney Douglas, James Ennis, Eric Gordon, Jordan Hamilton and Kendrick Perkins.
Projected Rotation 2016-2017: PG:Jrue Holiday, Langston Galloway, Tim Frazier; SG:Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, E’Twaun Moore; SF:Solomon Hill, Quincy Pondexter, Alonzo Gee; PF:Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Dante Cunningham, Cheick Diallo; C: Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca
Strengths: Obviously, Anthony Davis is still the team’s strength and go-to guy. He has emerged as one of the best all-around players in the NBA today. With Gentry’s leadership as an offensive minded coach, hopefully, Davis will have a good run this season. With Davis’ skills, size, athleticism and energy, he could be a contender in the MVP race again, only if he stays healthy the whole time.
The Pelicans can impose a threat when it comes to their inside game. Aside from Davis, lots of size up front with Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca. Also, rookie Buddy Hield could also contribute big numbers for the Pelicans.
Weaknesses: With Jrue Holiday gone for a while, things would be different for the team come 2016-2017 season opener. Playmaking may take a bit of a turn because of Holiday’s early season absence. When it comes to defense, the Pelicans were the third-worst defensive team last season, giving up 107.3 points per 100 possessions. The number one cause for this defensive stats? Injuries.
Gentry hasn’t been much of a defensive coach, so the Pelicans’ offense may improve next season but still unclear on the defensive end.
Prediction: 1st in the Southeast Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Photo courtesy: pelicansnba/Instagram