Blogtable: What To Make Of The Pelicans

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Dual dueling PGs in Houston | Tough Guy award | What to make of the Pelicans


The exhibition season doesn’t mean a thing … does it? What are we to make of the New Orleans Pelicans? Are they any good?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comAs the late, great Tony Montana said, “Fly, Pelican. Fly!” But I see this as more of a “try Pelicans, try” season. The parts are intriguing, but it’s all promise, not yet payoff. I’ll believe in a durable Eric Gordon, for instance, when I see him playing 78 games again some year. Anthony Davis‘ length and liveliness will carry him far as a defender but he still has refining to do. Most of the Pelicans’ roster has that “yes, but…” aspect to it. And while the schedule is balanced, just looking at the big boys in the Southwest Division could be daunting for bayou birds.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Didn’t you just answer your own question? I hear with the right combination of cayenne pepper and a good roux, you can make a tasty pelican gumbo.  And if coach Monty Williams stirs the pot just right, a team that can battle for the No. 8 spot in the West.

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis (Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comSometimes the preseason does mean something. Specifically for a young team learning how to win. Anthony Davis‘ impressive preseason is not a fluke. The kid, we are learning, is going to be a force. Are they a good team? Good is relative. Compared to what? Compared to what they were last year? Yes, they are a good team. Compared to the Spurs or Thunder. No, they are an improving team. But to the point, the Pelicans’ preseason does have meaning for a young team with a lot of talent, if not experience.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Yes. I don’t think playoff good, but no one should be surprised at the obvious signs of progress. Anthony Davis could still turn out to be the best player from the 2013 draft, Jrue Holiday is a nice add, Monty Williams is a quality coach, Eric Gordon continues to have good moments when healthy, and Ryan Anderson is an ideal complementary fit. New Orleans will go from 27 wins to 40-42.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Here’s a Schuhmann Stat: Over the last eight full preseasons (skipping 2011), 17 teams have gone through the exhibition schedule with less than two losses, and 14 of the 17 have made the playoffs. That’s kind of encouraging, though two of the three eventual lottery teams were last year’s Sixers and Raptors. The Pelicans have the talent – a strong top seven – to make get a seven or eight seed in the West, especially if Anthony Davis can carry this type of offensive production into the regular season. Ultimately, it will come down to how well they defend, something they did terribly last season. Watching some preseason film, Davis still needs improvement on his pick-and-roll coverage.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comI have a concrete stance about preseason evaluations and I won’t abandon it in this case, even though I’m high on the talent base the Pelicans have put together. I’m ready to buy Pelicans stock, I’ll go that far. But I’m not ready to proclaim them a legitimate playoff party crasher in the Western Conference based on their work in October. I need a larger and more reasonable sample size to work with. And let’s be real, we’ve been here too many times in the preseason or early in the regular season, cranking up the expectations on a team that goes nuts trying to win every quarter of every game, only to see them falter after a few weeks of playing above their heads. The undefeated preseason mark, to date, is indeed impressive. But it comes with an asterisk, just like everything else before Halloween does. Keep it up through Thanksgiving and then we can talk. The Pelicans are worth keeping an eye on, thanks to that collection of young talent that could and should be the basis for a playoff contender in the coming years.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I like their uniforms! As far as how they are going to be this season … yeah, we still don’t know. The one thing I feel like isn’t being talked about enough is their acquisition of Jrue Holiday — in the era of the point guard, going out and getting an All-Star caliber guard really makes a statement and helps establish your team on another level. I think health is the other thing to keep an eye on with the Pels — if Anthony Davis and, more relevantly, Eric Gordon are able to give you 70-80 games apiece, the Pels might mess around and sneak into the playoffs.

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA.com BrasilThe record doesn’t mean anything, but you certainly can take away something about chemistry, focus and individual player improvements. For a young, revamped team like the Pelicans, the preseason is important to develop a winning culture, so their impeccable record so far is certainly gonna translate well to the regular season. Anthony Davis looks like he stepped up his game to another level, and Eric Gordon has sparked memories of his best days as a Clipper. Nobody is suggesting the Pelicans are a title contender, but they will surely surprise a lot of people and could have a fast start to their season.

Davide Chinellato, NBA.com Italy: You can’t trust preseason games, but winning’s always a good way to boost your morale. I think the Pelicans could be a fringe playoff team this year. To go back to the postseason, though, they need a breakout season from Anthony Davis, they need Eric Gordon healthy and back to his Clippers days and they need Tyreke Evans to play as well as he did in 2009-10, when he won the Rookie of the Year. Now that I write that, I’m getting a little afraid that those are too many ifs.

24 Comments

  1. Karlo Garcia says:

    I expect the New Orleans Pelicans to improve from last year.

  2. wjoinfo says:

    The Pels are loaded in the back-court and the 4 with AD and Anderson is dynamite. If they had a decent center the Pels would be a lock for the playoffs………..

  3. HOIDIHO says:

    HOW STRONG IS THE WEST (regular season)?

    supersize: SPURS
    very strong: CLIPPERS, WARRIORS
    very strong with a BUT: THUNDER, ROCKETS, GRIZZLIES

    stronger than weak (fighting for seeds 7 & 8): T-WOLVES, NUGGETS, MAVS, BLAZERS AND… THE PELICANS!

    please try again some time: LAKERS, JAZZ, SUNS, KINGS

    Even the east now has 3 contenders added to the HEAT and the west more balanced out, WC as a whole is still stronger than the east. To much “legumes” in the east (trying for wiggins)

  4. David says:

    I just watched them play Miami last night. And they brought it too them in the first quarter. Scoring will not be an issue with this team. protecting the ball and playing defense will have to become a mentality along with the scoring. I don’t see them being in the top 6. But lets be honost Lakers are done! Won’t make the playoffs. besides OKC, Clippers, Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston I don’t see another guaranteed playoff team. Pelicans are going to the playoffs. Just a matter of whether it will be the #6th, #7th, #8th seed!

    • Mark says:

      Um, what about the Grizzlies? I think they are a guaranteed playoff team.

      • Paul Barbre says:

        Guaranteed spot? Don’t think so; no team is guaranteed a spot in the West unless they are the Spurs, Thunder, or Warriors, and possibly Rockets. The rest of the spots are up for grabs.

  5. Unkle Daddy says:

    I think if Davis waxed his eyebrow, he’d play that much better. More arrow dynamic.

  6. Jester says:

    The Sixers will get the pick if it is not top 5. If the Pelicans make the playoffs, it will be 15 or lower depending on records. If they miss the playoffs, they’ll probably still be at worst 12th in the lottery. Thus, 12 is the absolute highest the pick will be, because, if they luck into the top 3, the Pelicans keep the pick.

  7. Jester says:

    Nick must be ate up with it to think the team’s name will somehow negatively affect performance. Las Angelas Lakers? Boston Celtics? Miami Heat? Oklahoma City Thunder? Names mean very little.

  8. Leonard laws says:

    I am a Diehard Sixers fan and would like to know….If the Pelicans make the playoff how does there 1st round pick to the Sixers work? I know we will really miss Jrue, but I guess we have a plan… So my 2nd team is The Big N.O.

  9. Mark says:

    Rexona, won’t let you down!

  10. Chris says:

    Clean up those armpits and that eyebrow. What a mess.

  11. Gillsy says:

    I agree that it makes a statement to trade a high pick to pik up an upcoming point guard which I required for a decent team. Davis looks the real deal and the extra pounds help. They still need a productive centre to help Davis out. If hey can pick up there defence they can be knocking on he playoff door. That 40 to 44 win season can be in reach.

  12. J says:

    they’ll battle for the 7th or 8th seed

    while we discuss west standings…

    when you think about it the west doesn’t have a definite 1 seed like the east its either Miami or Indiana. in the west the thunder aren’t as good without harden and especially with Westbrook injured, the spurs Duncan is probably not gonna go off again and ginobilli is falling off the wagon then you have the clippers but they aren’t as good as 2012 thunder or last years spurs they are great but I don’t think they are top seed material.

    my point is the west is strong but the west is not strong up top like east is where they got heat, pacers and bulls, I think both conferences are equal now.

    • Mark says:

      Duncan has come in better shape than last season. I don’t expect a huge drop-off from Duncan. He’ll be great. And Ginobili has looked better, especially during preseason, now that he didn’t play in Europe during the summer and actually rested for the first time in a while. I expect the Spurs, Clippers, or Thunder (if Westbrook comes back earlier than expected and plays normally) to have the #1 seed.

      I still don’t think it’s equal between the conferences. The West has 6 teams who could possibly reach 50 wins, along with 3 or 4 other teams who could win at least 40 games. The East has 4 teams who could possibly reach 50 wins, while the eventual 7th and 8th seeds could still be below .500. The West is still the better conference.

      • Joe L. says:

        Jrue Holiday is the prize. He will shock everyone and be the number one player for the Pels. I have watched his careeer since UCLA and he is amazing.

  13. Nick says:

    Yeaaaaaah um, no team named the Pelicans will ever win anything. Well maybe an ESPY for the silliest name in sports.

    • Paul Barbre says:

      Your ignorance is showing out bright as a light bulb. What does the name of a team have to do with them winning games, moron? There are tons of teams in the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, AFL, minor league sports, with worse names, chump. Anything else “intelligent’ you have to say?

  14. os gansos para o cabelo says:

    It means nothing measurable but it certainly is a good sign for a young new team.

    Cant buy mentality, so to smell the taste of a winning strike can carry over into the regular season.

    But as Caplan said, good is relative. In my opinion, they have to be good relative to MIN, DAL, POR (and maybe LAL). Because theres only 1 playoff spot left in the West…
    I would love to see Dirk make it there, but I guess the time belongs to Minnesota.

  15. Eh says:

    I keep trying to not get excited over the off season, but the Pelicans are looking damn good. The dedication of the players NO has brought in is astounding. On top of that, they’re all humble and young. Plenty of time to continue building chemistry and overall game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a playoff push, but I’m also holding back my optimism, especially considering the strength of the West. Regardless, without doubt, this is going to be a tough team to beat within the next few years.