The Pelicans have had a down season in 2015/2016, due to many injuries, and the most they could hope for this season is the first round playoff exit. However, with Alvin Gentry in charge, the Pelicans have had a lot of change in their team composition, which could bringthem great results.
This season the Pelicans are on a proving ground due to many changes in the team roster. Gentry decided to build his team around Anthony Davis, Pelicans’ All-star, which means that Davis has been given a role of the team leader. The problems that Gentry wanted to focus on handling betterin this season are: get better defensively, increase versatility and high character personnel. Solomon Hill was signed to fill the role on defense, as a result of Jrue Holiday’s absence this season because he has to care for his wife, Lauren, who had a surgery to remove her benign tumor.
Predictions for the New Orleans Pelicans cannot be good if the Pelicans don’t tackle the menace that was bothering them last season: health. Last season they were the team with the most injuries. They could see a 40 to 45 wins this season, if the team can stay healthy, mostly Davis. Last game against the Houston Rockets, Davis injured his ankle, while E’Twaun Moore injured his heel. Since this season the overall team performance relies on Davis, who must have at least 70 games played this season.
The Pelicans have got a shooter ace up their sleeve- Buddy Hield. This rookie is a vital asset for the team, especially since the loss of Ryan Anderson. Last games he’s seen the starting lineup, and if Buddy Buckets keeps progressing, he will be seeing the starting lineup this entire season. Last season for the University of Oklahoma, Hield averaged 25.0 points per game, at 50.1 % from the field. He’s made 147 out of 322 three point attempts, which are very good numbers, especially since the Pelicans are in a desperate need of a three-pointer. Gentry saw another potential in Hield, and that is his synergy with Davis. Buddie’s ability to find an open man with Davis’ gravity could open several threes per game in the Pelicans favor. Even though E’Twaun Moore has more NBA experience than Buddy, Buddy’s spending a lot of his time on the court, and justifies with his last two preseason games: 18,5 points, 2.5 3PA and 55.7 % field goal percentage.
Defensively, the Pelicans need to work around Davis as well. A combination of good defenders around Hield could push him to improve his defensive potential. However, Alexis Ajinca needs to work harder on his defense. The other center Omer Asik is a lot better in defense than Alexis.
The concept behind all these changes are interesting. Gentry wants the players to develop that synergy with Davis, and Davis knows what to do as the leader of the Pelicans. Be that in defense, or offense, Gentry’s main focus is teams’ versatility among themselves. This is a work in progress, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication for this team to connect.
This season the Pelicans could exceed some expectations, but they won’t see more than 50 games won this season, and that is if Davis can stay healthy enough to play 70 games or more for the Pelicans this season, and be careful of his health on the court.
Words By: Admir Aljic