COMMENTARY | After the Hornets struggled both on and off the court in New Orleans for most of the last 11 years, the NBA franchise is nearing its official rebirth as the New Orleans Pelicans.
There is certainly reason for optimism in New Orleans. The Pelicans have one of the most talented young phenoms in the NBA in Anthony Davis. On draft night, the Pelicans acquired All-Star PG Jrue Holiday for Nerlins Noel, who never fit into New Orleans' long-term plans. This influx of young talent and the Pelicans' stability in ownership make this a great time to be an NBA fan in New Orleans.
After Chris Paul and David West left New Orleans, the Hornets began a rebuilding process. Coming off two losing seasons with a combined record of 48-100, Pelicans fans are ready to win now. Our instant gratification, attention-deficit society no longer tolerates extended rebuilding efforts as it did in the past. Even Pelicans owner Tom Benson is anxious to see a return on his investment.
Will the Pelicans shock the NBA and make the playoffs this season?
Casual NBA fans may be surprised at the core of young talent with which New Orleans will enter the 2013-14 NBA season. Ryan Anderson is a unique talent at PF in that he is also a deadly 3-point shooter. Although not as heralded as Holiday is, SG/SF Tyreke Evans is another great acquisition for the Pelicans. In fact, Evans is only three years removed from winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
However, the Pelicans have a myriad of questions to answer before people in New Orleans should start saving their money for NBA playoff tickets. First, Pelicans head coach Monty Williams will have to get creative as he juggles a roster with multiple potential starters at the same positions. Anderson and Davis both play PF, while Evans and Eric Gordon both play SG. Evans can play SF, but he prefers to play SG.
Despite their best efforts, the Pelicans failed to snatch a high-level NBA starter at C. New Orleans couldn't convince Greg Oden to choose the French Quarter over South Beach. And the Minnesota Timberwolves re-signed Nikola Pekovic before the Pelicans could make a run at the restricted free agent. New Orleans did sign C Greg Stiemsma, but he is hardly the caliber of the previously mentioned NBA centers.
Perhaps the biggest question in New Orleans is whether Eric Gordon is finally happy and healthy. Gordon has always struggled to stay healthy all season in the NBA. And his comments have hardly endeared him to Pelicans fans in New Orleans. But Gordon played AAU basketball with new teammates Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday. So, hopefully, Gordon is ready to go all in with New Orleans and the Pelicans.
Although the New Orleans Pelicans will be an exciting, improved team this season, I believe they will fall just short of qualifying for the 2014 NBA playoffs. I believe it will take much of the NBA season for all the new parts to come together and learn Monty Williams' system. I also don't like either option of starting Stiemsma at C, which puts Anderson on the bench, or starting Davis at C and Anderson at PF, which weakens the bench.
But with a little more patience, the Pelicans should be playoff-bound in 2015.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA follower, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz follower and now cheers for the Pelicans. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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