Predict the Pelicans season record, their finish in the Western Conference standings, and if applicable, how far they make it in the playoffs.
Kevin Barrios: I think as long as Anthony Davis is healthy for 75 games, and is paired with at least a healthy Tyreke Evans or a healthy Jrue Holiday for those 75 matchups, the Pelicans will win 50 games this year.
The team has so many mix and match complimentary players, all unfortunately accustomed to shouldering loads while others are out. Combining them with AD and either Evans and Holiday should be enough to carry New Orleans to a 5th, or maybe even 4th seed, in the ever-deepening West.
The Pelicans should be able to make it out of the first round, but I believe inexperience and fatigue (players playing huge minutes to overcome injured teammates) will derail the squad in round two of the postseason.
Chris Cucchiara: Despite the fact that the Pelicans' preseason injury list is horrifying, I predict the team will finish with a 55-27 record. They will get a healthy season from Jrue, AD and Gordon and the improvement in coaching will reduce the number of lapses against inferior opponents as New Orleans had last year.
I predict the Pelicans will take another couple steps forward and finish with the sixth best record in the Western Conference. Although, it does seem like whatever curse Darren Sproles' wife put on the Saints has leaked over onto the neighboring Pelicans franchise.
My dream playoff scenario, ever since Chris Paul forced his way out of NOLA, is for the Pelicans to play and eliminate the Clippers from the postseason. I predict the Pelicans and Clippers will meet as the 3 versus 6 matchup, and the Pelicans will advance. I can dream!
Jay Dunn: New Orleans will finish at 56-26 which will probably be good for 3rd or 4th seed in the West. How deep they travel in the playoffs, though, depends strictly on the matchups, but I think they take the next step and see the second round.
Peyton Fine: I believe the Pelicans will finish as a 50-win team and land a 6/7 seed in the West. I think much of our seeding will hinge on how far behind the 8-ball the beginning of the season leaves us.
David Fisher: The Pelicans will finish about 47-35 this season, good for 7th in the Western Conference. Once in the playoffs, they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder and give us a nail-biting seven game series. Sadly, Kevin Durant and company will get their revenge and close out the Pelicans in the decisive game.
Kyle Gahagan: I'd expect the Pelicans to end up with a minimum 50 wins on the year, and attain as high as a 5th seed in the Western Conference. Besides having to deal with the gauntlet of their own division, the Blazers, Clips, and Mavericks have regressed, whereas Memphis/SA/Houston have improved their rosters. Then Golden State, is, well, Golden State -- I don't yet think we're quite there yet.
Jonathan Harvey: The Pellies will shock some fans, win a bunch of games against the top tier of the west, but will they eclipse the top 5? I’m not so sure.
The Clippers got deeper, the Spurs just became a steroid injected version of themselves, the Warriors are the defending champs and lost no key cogs, Memphis didn’t lose any key pieces, and the Rockets might have the best starting five in the league. Oh, and four of those five teams live in the Pelicans southwest division.
I could see the Pelicans getting to 50 wins, but baring a key injury to the top tier of the West, the 6 seed is the ceiling for this team, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
Quentin Haynes: 50-32; 6th seed in Western Conference. I'm conflicted on if this team can really reach that next level without another personnel move, though, the head coaching change to Alvin Gentry should result in a few additional wins.
Overall, I think the offense will look good, the defense will look better, but with injuries already happening, the move up the standings does not have a chance of moving as high as many people think.
Zachary Junda: I'd predict a preseason record but that would imply I have an idea of what type of record they'd have...or how many games they play...or that I actually have a prediction. All of which I do not.
That being said I think a rational playoff seeding can be found like it's a math problem. So the Pelicans were 8th last year and should be better. Dallas is disintegrating and Portland is going to fall off a cliff. So that would put them 6th. But let's not forget Oklahoma City should be back in and, health of Kevin Durant assumed, should have a better record because if nothing else they play in the eternal punching bag that is the Northwest. So I feel like the best and most rational seed I can project them is 7th.
New Orleans will proceed and take someone, I'm betting on the Clippers, to seven games in the first round.
Oleh Kosel: Naturally, everything starts and ends with the health of the superstar. If Anthony Davis surpasses his personal best of last season's 68 appearances, I like for the team to finish with a record of 51-31. A four game improvement on the 2014-15 season should be within reach yet leave some wiggle room for a bad break or two.
I'll peg the Pelicans to finish 6th in the Western Conference, thanks in part to the vacuum created by the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks. I expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to finish ahead of the Pels, but I can foresee another team from the last playoff picture to fall behind. On occasion, a preseason favorite suffers through underperformance, injury or some combination of factors.
Despite the higher finish in the standings, I'll wager the Pelicans draw either the Golden State Warriors or the Oklahoma City Thunder and unfortunately lose to them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. However, they will walk away with two wins and make it a very competitive series.