Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Over the past week, the Pelicans have done their part in spreading joy around New Orleans by winning three straight games. Their current winning streak has moved them up in the standings, and more importantly, in the eyes of the rest of the league. The squad sits 3 games in back of the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers (Pels' next opponent) for the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
Although the Pelicans currently have the fourth worst record in the NBA, it needs to be restated that injuries and the strength of schedule have been enormous detractors. According to the Sagarin Rankings, New Orleans is 19th, ahead of teams such as the 8-8 New York Knicks and the 5-10 Houston Rockets.
During the last three games, the offense and defense have found their footing. The Pelicans fielded the 4th most efficient offense (111.6 Offensive Rating) and the 16th best defense (103.8 Defensive Rating) at the league's quickest pace (103.7). A positive net rating of 7.8 is nothing to scoff at when considering New Orleans played the Suns twice and the San Antonio Spurs once.
Despite giving little time to traditional centers (Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca), the Pelicans defensive rebounding has been key grabbing 81.9% of their opportunities, the league's 3rd highest mark. Anthony Davis has been a Hoover, vacuuming an average 18 rebounds per game, and his 34.9 DREB% only trailed Andre Drummond and Bismack Biyombo for the week.
Following the Pelicans win last night, Amin Elhassan of ESPN ranted away in support of New Orleans.
Pelicans win, and I feel the need to tweet this again: https://t.co/X8eLuCucgd— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) November 26, 2015
Reinforcements on the way, as Tyreke Evans expected to make season debut on road trip. Norris Cole not far behind https://t.co/yFlqSjnY9K— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) November 26, 2015
Talked about this with @paulcoro: reason teams that start 0-10 almost never make playoffs is bec they're almost always legit terrible. (1/2)— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) November 26, 2015
Thus, it's silly to look at NOP start to this season and surmise "it's a wrap!", especially with so many underachieving teams ahead (2/2)— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) November 26, 2015
If you've been following The Bird Writes, none of this should be new information, but it's good to see that mainstream is catching onto the idea. Just a week ago, we were all stuck reading the same obituaries, both on social media and in a number of articles around various sites.
With about 3 weeks remaining in the 2014-15 season, New Orleans sat 3.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. We all know what happened during the final 11 regular season games: a beautiful ride that resulted in a postseason berth. Just imagine what the 2015-16 group may do with 67 games left on the slate and the Pelicans getting healthier by the day.