On the morning of December 7th, 2014 the New Orleans Pelicans were 8-10 and 2.5 games back of the Phoenix Suns for the 8th and final playoff spot. Today they are 5-15 (eww) and 4.5 games (not too bad) behind the Houston Rockets for 8th. On one hand, the Pelicans are terrible compared to last year's squad at this point in time. On the other, the hole they've dug isn't nearly as deep as many expected. Basketball Reference projects the Pellies playoff odds at a scant 2.2%, but also expects that 41 wins are the threshold to reach the 7th seed.
Is it a long shot considering what we've seen out of New Orleans in the first 20 games? Yeah. Are the playoffs impossible? No. Last season's team went 25-16 to close out the second half of the year, a 50 win pace over 41 games. If they can extend that pace to the remaining 62 games this year that puts their win total at 42.8 for the season. Many folks thought this team could be a 50 win team for the year, putting it together over 62 considering the schedule is not out of the realm of possibility.
Last week New Orleans won just one game, an overtime thriller over the Cleveland Cavaliers despite the best efforts of LeBron James. How did power rankers respond to a 1-2 week? Another bump for the Pelicans.
Last Week: 24 - This Week: 23
The Pelicans are still a long way from the playoff picture, and Saturday's visit to Chicago begins a stretch where they play 11 of 16 games on the road, where they're 1-10 thus far. But Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole are finally healthy and the Pels got a big win on Friday, beating the Cavs with a clutch three from Jrue Holiday and a dominant overtime performance from Anthony Davis.
Last Week: 22 - This Week: 22
In each of the last seven full NBA seasons, it took 45 wins to snag a playoff berth in the West. The Pels are thus hoping two things right now: (1) That Friday's stirring OT win over LeBron James' Cavs will be the spark that gets their season going; (2) That these iffy times in the West mean the 2015-16 playoff bar will be lower.
Last Week: 28 - This Week: 24
Maybe beating Cleveland in overtime will spark something for these guys, who are out of excuses with Anthony Davis looking like himself and Tyreke Evans back in the lineup (with 28 assists in his first three games, too). I still think there’s a team in there, somewhere.
Last Week: 22 - This Week: 21
It's alive! It's really alive! It's still not playing great defense and still has injury problems hanging by a thread, but it's alive!