Lost in all the hoopla (giggle) of "Football is Back," pounding everyone who tunes into any sports media outlet relentlessly over the head, is that basketball is nearly here as well. Just 29 days from now (on October 1st), the New Orleans Pelicans will open training camp.
The NBA understands the market for sports information: football (NFL & NCAA) will dominate the headlines until the five game marathon known as Christmas Day. ESPN, newly minted Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, and talk radio will focus 98% of their attention on football between now and Christmas Eve. Only some ridiculous winning streak (by Miami, the Lakers, the Nets, you know the deal), an injury to a superstar, or the Heat losing multiple games (should they trade Bosh? Is Wade breaking down?) will divert the laser-like focus of sports media from football.
Football is the ideal engine for the modern American sports media. Games are generally played on the weekend. During the week, "analysts" can make as many wild predictions as they like with impunity. Yet, somehow the weekend, with fans glued to the television for an endless amount of hours, manages to wipe all those predictions away and sports media just fires up again on Monday, with new knee jerk "analysis."
Basketball operates a little differently. The fan base is much smaller, but even more rabid in following the entire league, instead of just their team or conference (for college football). This is in large part thanks to NBA League Pass and games occurring every night. The first week of the season, typically being free, is a godsend to those of us with limited financial means (or tightly tied purse strings).
However, basketball is not free from errant predictions. Last year, the Lakers were expected to contend for a championship, meanwhile Golden State was expected to miss the playoffs. Everyone ignored San Antonio (since every year is the year they get too old). In this article, Zach Lowe expected Memphis to ship off Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph and them to struggle (the Grizz made the WCF). This is not to bag on the predictors, but instead, point out the very treacherous nature of predicting the future. Zach Lowe got everything right about Memphis (cutting salary, shipping off Rudy Gay) but failed to predict Russell Westbrook (who hadn't missed a game since ever?) going down with an injury and the Grizzlies meeting the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Keep all of this information in mind when reading about the Pelicans this fall, as predictions are already on their way out. For instance, New Orleans is expected to finish 39-43 or 37-45, depending on the source. Know that Golden State last year was projected to finish 38-44 by ESPN before the season and were media darlings by the end of their playoff run.
29 days from today, we will start to see what the future holds as the training camp begins. 58 days from today, the Pelican era will officially begin with the Indiana Pacers visiting New Orleans Arena. Between now and then, a vast number of predictions will be made. Likely, the Pelicans will be picked to finish outside the playoffs by the majority of national writers, but don't take it to heart, the proud fan base will just have to assume they are all wrong.