With the NBA offseason activity beginning to wane heavily this week, albeit for a few signings still up in the air- Brandon Jennings/Nikola Pekovic notably. And on the eve of the NFL and college football's annual takeover of all things media, I think it's finally time to make some predictions for the upcoming NBA season given that the majority of rosters are somewhere between working rough draft and fixed. Now before reading this column, I need you guys to realize a few things: 1) I'm making NBA predictions in JULY and literally ANYTHING can happen before the season to derail these predictions. 2) These are 100% serious. I am not here to troll or make fun of anybody. That would be churlish and a waste of time. 3) I encourage you to respond with how you feel about my predictions. So without further ado, I present to you a running column that will include a Fanpost for each and every NBA team, "The Flagrantly Early, Incredibly Half-Baked NBA Predictions Series."
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
No. 1: The Pelicans will make the Playoffs, but just barely
To all the Pelicant's out there, I'd like to address this next statement to you: The Pelicans are going to be good next year; they aren't going to be in the lottery; don't lose any sleep over the 2014 pick. After purchasing the ultimate Eric Gordon insurance policy in 24 year old Tyreke Evans and inexplicably upgrading at point guard with Jrue Holiday, I believe it's time we as a fan base begin to embrace our Pelicans as worthy. These last two seasons have inspired little confidence in the New Orleans basketball faithful, but I believe our hope is on the horizon and it's reasonable for all Pelican fans to expect more from this team. When I heard Tom Benson was putting pressure on Dell Demps to make some moves that would put this team into contention, it genuinely made me happy. Anthony Davis now has some real, talented professionals around him, so he can fully unleash The Brow on the league and put the team on his back like we all know he will.
This team has a very capable mesh of role players in Ryan Anderson, Al Aminu, Austin Rivers, Tony Morrow, Jason Smith, Greg Stiemsma, Brian Roberts to really compete this year for a playoff berth, and to expect anything less from this squad would be to sell them short on their talents. The Pelicans are primed for a much better and above .500 season, barring significant injury- although if Gordon decides to sit out half the season such as he likes to do, that won't be a problem. Yet the hesitation comes in the fact that 6/8 of the 2013 playoff teams won't be budging from their postseason spot. Spurs, Grizzlies, and Thunder all held court and didn't shoot themselves in the foot too much. Clippers and Warriors improved their depth. Rockets got Dwight. Only the Nuggets and Lakers lost key pieces, and I believe the Nuggets will be back because they kept their core together (Remember Iggy was only there one year) and Gallinari should be back for a late season run. That means without the imploded, Kobe-less Lakers in the picture, the overrated Mavericks, surprisingly caucasian TimberWolves, and doomed TrailBlazers are the Pelicans main competition for the 8th spot. I'll take those odds any day. I like New Orleans' chances.
No. 2: The Pelicans will score points and actually be fun to watch on a nightly basis
Having gone to almost every Hornets game last year, I can attest that there were nights when the Bees were nearly unwatchable. Their 25th ranked offense was often horribly shameful to watch. The images of Robin Lopez posting up, Austin Rivers driving blindly into the paint with no idea of what he was going to do, and Al Aminu's grotesque 15 foot jumper obviously clanking are burned so deeply into my mind that I'd be wise to get an Eternal Sunshine-like procedure. But this year the Pelicans offense will be a thing of beauty. With 3 bonafide slashers on the roster, Ryan Anderson, Tony Morrow and Jason Smith's silky smooth strokes, Anthony Davis grown confidence and strength, and the very real option to never give the ball to Al Aminu this team is primed to finally put some points on the board. Now I realize Monty's a defensive-minded coach, but when the Pels are hungry you gotta let them fish. Adding Jrue and Tyreke's fierce abilities to get to the rim, I would not be surprised to see the Pels push the pace and try to throw up some higher box scores. Like the great Zen-master Rasheed Wallace says, "Defense wins championships but offense sells tickets." With this new, talented, breakout-star-studded squad, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few less available seats this season.
No. 3: The Brow will unleash his Star power
Anthony Davis put a lot of pressure on himself last season. Davis knew coming in that the Hornets were not a particularly talented team, and he wanted to carry a greater load than he was able because that's what #1 overall players do. AD dealt with some minor injuries which probably cost him the ROY, and Monty's minutes restriction kept him from ever being fully unleashed. Now the training wheels are off and it seems the Pelicans are willing to let AD go all out/no holds barred.
I see in davis future a double-double average season with at least 2 blocks per game, a top 10 PER season (he was 15th last season), and great deal of votes coming his way for the All Star game. There will be much less pressure on AD in his second season and I think he will be more capable to embrace his true role as the front court anchor for the Pelicans. He's young, he's lovable, he's got that stupid unibrow, and I believe we will see an uncannily similar yet all around better version of Anthony Davis this season. #FlockTogether