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New Orleans Pelicans gain ground in Power Rankings, hope for return of Tyreke Evans

Anthony Davis and company are still looking up in the standings. Help is on the way.

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis survived an injury scare on Black Friday but the New Orleans Pelicans lost two in a row to end the week. On the plus side of things both Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole are expected to make their season debuts as early as Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Evans has been rehabbing after his second knee surgery this off-season while Cole suffered a high ankle sprain during training camp.

The losing streak, interestingly enough, was more about the offense than the defense. This isn't to say the defense was stellar (a 106.3 DRtg is not good) but the offense posting a horrendous 90.2 offensive rating is the bigger culprit. Prior to the losing streak New Orleans was shooting 36.4% on open 3-pointers and 59.3% in the restricted area. In these two losses the Pels shot 29.4% on open 3-pointers (10/34) and 50% (33/66) from the restricted area. 100 of 163 shots attempted (61.3%) were either open 3-pointers or at the rim, which is a phenomenal distribution that should result in much better results on offense over the long term.

Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole will likely be on some kind of minutes limitation in the early going. Still, their presence should help alleviate the doldrums when Anthony Davis needs to take a break. The rotation choices going forward will be fascinating.

After going 1-2 this week how did power rankers react to the Pelicans? More positively than I expected.

NBA.com

Last Week: 26 - This Week: 24

The Pelicans' three-game winning streak and run of strong offense came to an end with road losses to the Clippers and Jazz. Their defense remains bad, but they're not letting their opponents get to the rim as much as they did last season and their league-high opponent 3-point percentage will come down with time. Nine teams have contested a lower percentage of their opponents' 3-point attempts.

ESPN

Last Week: 24 - This Week: 22

Ryan Anderson has been rolling. Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole are both almost ready, at last, to join the season. Anthony Davis dodged major injury in that Chris Paul-induced collision that looked so scary. The Pels have led for fewer fourth-quarter minutes (42) than any team except the Lakers (38), but it's finally starting to look like that's only temporary.

Sports Illustrated

Last Week: 27 - This Week: 28

Hopes of a playoff return are seriously dwindling. As a point of comparison, at the same stage last year the Thunder were 5-12, went 40-25 the rest of the way, and still just missed the eight seed. And though the watered-down West leaves room for hope, the Pelicans’ ghastly defense needs serious work to pull this off.

CBS Sports

Last Week: 25 - This Week: 22

Starting to look like an actual NBA team now that they're finally getting healthy. They have to get a good streak of injury luck. They are in a huge hole.