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Bird Feed: NBA Preview Pop Up, Computer Projections, and More

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Aminu can never leave New Orleans according to sources

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NBA.com Pelican Preview

It is mostly an ode to Anthony Davis and the work he put in this summer. It is a tune folks around here should be familiar with as I took it for a spin in our blogger preview last week. These two quotes are pretty critical to the entire concept of the value gained with Team USA for Davis and the Pelicans.

According to Pelicans coach Monty Williams, who served as an assistant on coach Mike Krzyzewski's staff, it was a time when Davis became "the lead dog among alpha dogs."

"I got better, not just as player, but as a person," Davis said. "Hanging around those guys, the coaches, you are going to get better. Having coach there, knowing what I need to work on for the season, was even better."

ESPN NBA Preview is Out Too

Are you an Aminu fan? Do you wish the Pelicans would have re-signed Aminu instead of letting him go to the division rival Dallas Mavericks at the veteran minimum? Fear not! ESPN has bent the very space-time continuum and placed Al-Farouq Aminu back in a Pelicans uniform!

The entire preview can be found here. It is hardly detailed but does include the gorgeous projected defensive shot chart found above. That shot chart is created by Austin Clemens. His shot charts at Nylon Calculus contributed heavily to our last Shooting for Success article this summer.

Perhaps a better source for roster information is needed ESPN.

SCHOENE puts Pels in Playoffs?

Clicking through ESPN's preview (click "More" from the front page) leads to dueling computer projections. One, based on ESPN's Real Plus-Minus and created by Jeremias Engelmann and Stephen Ilardi, has the Pelicans finishing 10th in the Western Conference with what appears to be about 37-38 wins.

Kevin Pelton's  SCHOENE projection, on the other hand, places the Pelicans 7th in the conference at around 45 wins. SCHOENE moves the Pels ahead of Dallas, Memphis, and Phoenix. Two other teams have similar disparities with SCHOENE thinking much more highly than Real Plus-Minus; the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons. Pelton's model correctly selected 12 of 16 playoff teams last season.

Pelicans Add New Staff

A number of new names have been added to the Pelicans support staff. Yesterday the Pelicans announced nine different additions or promotions within the organization. Of particular interest with the recent health struggles here in New Orleans are these three gentlemen.

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today the hiring and promotion of several members of the team’s basketball operations staff. Duane Brooks, who brings over two decades of experience in his field, enters his first season as head athletic trainer with the New Orleans Pelicans after spending the previous 13 seasons as the New Orleans Saints’ assistant athletic trainer. Brooks is responsible for the health care, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, daily training room operations and maintenance of the team’s medical records.

Jason Sumerlin joins the Pelicans as assistant strength and conditioning coach, where he will assist with the athletic development and training of players. Prior to joining New Orleans, Sumerlin spent five seasons as the assistant strength coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

Jared Lewis begins his first season with the Pelicans in the role of physical therapist, where he will oversee players’ prevention and rehabilitation of injuries. Lewis, a Northeastern University graduate, previously worked as a physical therapist with Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine of Norton, MA.

While these names will hopefully not be mentioned frequently the impact and sheer volume of contact these three will have with the players is immense.

Monty Williams Opening the Playbook

If you do not make a point to read the stuff Nakia Hogan puts out for the Times-Picayune I really recommend you start soon. Yesterday he took a quick look at how the Pelicans are adding new wrinkles to the offense. Monty Williams has previously stated he learned from the Team USA coaching staff to give players more latitude on the court.

"I got this reputation now, I heard it all summer on how tough I am on guys," Williams said. "The thing that I pulled away from this situation, the whole experience, is giving guys a little more freedom to play their games - not try to hamstring guys. I thought I did it a little bit. But I think its something that I’m still working on."

Ryan Anderson makes note of this new approach in Hogan's article yesterday.

"Obviously we have so many guys who can do so many different things, I think coach is giving us more freedom to just play. A big change has been our quick offense, just getting into something right after a miss. Guys have a lot of freedom to make plays. A lot of that is based on guys like Tyreke, a guy who can handle the ball really well so we want to give it to him on the break. That's where we can be really dangerous."

Is it just a matter of the players and coaching staff staying on message or a real reflection of a change in approach? The games that matter will be the ultimate measure.

Pelicans Back in Action Tonight

New Orleans will host the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in the Smoothie King Center; tip off is at 7:00. The game is not going to be televised by either Fox Sports New Orleans or Fox Sports Oklahoma (who covers the Thunder locally). This means it is highly unlikely anyone not present in the SKC will be able to watch the game.

Both teams last played on Tuesday. Coach Scott Brooks started former Pelican Lance Thomas at small forward against the Memphis Grizzlies in their last game. This will be the first of three visits back to New Orleans for Anthony Morrow. Morrow signed a 3 year, $10 Million contract with OKC as a free agent this summer. Hopefully the fans in attendance welcome him warmly, his effort on the court last season deserves such a response.