The New Orleans Pelicans were bit by the injury bug last season. All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday only played in 34 games and sharp shooter Ryan Anderson only played in 22 games. Anthony Davis improved from his rookie year and became an All-Star averaging 20 and 10 with almost 3 blocks a game. Eric Gordon played in his most games (64) since the 2009-10 season. Tyreke Evans was a new addition who had more opportunities to play once Holiday went down but he wasn’t a game changer. They lost 8 of their last 10 and finished with a 34-48 record.
Anthony Davis improved a lot in his second season. His scoring went up from 13.5 to 20.8. His rebounds went up from 8.2 to 10.0 and his blocks went from 1.8 to 2.8. He had 36 double-doubles which was also an improvement. His durability is still a concern as he has not yet played in 70 games in a season. The kid is special and he made his first All-Star game last year. He took 329 more shots and shot 51% again. Davis showed up for the most part but his supporting cast missed a lot of games.
Coming off an All-Star season in Philly the Pelicans made a draft day trade to acquire Jrue Holiday. He’s only 24 and he’s a really good on ball defender. He was supposed to be Davis’s running mate but he had a stress fracture in his right tibia that limited him to 34 games. His scoring was down slightly from his All-Star season but he improved his three point shooting.
Ryan Anderson is a knock down three point shooter. His three pointers made have increased every year. In his first season with the Pelicans he played in 81 games and hit 213 three pointers. He was shooting a career high 40% from three point land last year before being knocked out for the season. Eric Gordon had his best season with the Pelicans and hit 39% of his three pointers.
They did not have draft pick this year but still managed to get Patric Young and Russ Smith. Both players can be energy guys but will most likely spend time in the D-League.
The Pelicans roster is intact and health will play a major factor. Anthony Davis won another gold medal during the World Cup. He has bulked up and expanded his range. They added Omer Asik to bang in the paint so Davis can play power forward. Their paint defense will be much improved although they don’t have great perimeter defenders.
If Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson stay healthy this team will be much improved. Evans and Gordon played okay together last year. Evans is the slasher and he can get to the line. Gordon and Holiday can stretch the floor and Davis is a better shooter. Austin Rivers will have to knock down shots to stay on the floor. His second season was better than his rookie year but he needs to improve. He shot 36% from the three point line but he took less than 100 threes. The Pelicans added Jimmer Fredette and if he hits shots he will take Rivers’ minutes.
The Pelicans will be a better rebounding team, a better defensive team and a healthy Holiday and Anderson will improve their scoring. Anthony Davis will have a monster season. The West is still tough but I expect them to win 40-42 games.