The New Orleans Pelicans are on the rise according to two prominent national media outlets. CBS Sports (on June 15th) and NBA.com (on June 27th) released updated power rankings since most of the free agent dust has cleared. This season I will be following six different rankings; SB Nation, NBA.com by John Schuhmann, ESPN by Marc Stein, CBS Sports by Matt Moore, Yahoo! Sports by Marc Spears, and Sports Illustrated by Matt Dollinger.
As this is a new season our "last week" remains blank. However, it is instructive to look back to how most viewed the Pelicans last season before games took place. Jumping back to the first edition of our power rankings watch last year shows a significant increase in the standing of the franchise in just nine months time. Rankings in parenthesis are within the Western Conference. Matt Moore did not have a preseason power ranking out and his first was on November 3rd.
|October 27th, 2014||April 13th, 2015||July 27th, 2015|
|SB Nation||20th (11th)||13th (8th)|
|NBA.com||18th (10th)||10th (7th)||8th (7th)|
|ESPN||17th (10th)||12th (8th)|
|CBS Sports||16th (November 3rd)||15th (9th)||13th (7th)|
|Yahoo! Sports||13th (8th)||13th (8th)|
|Sports Illustrated||18th (11th)||11th (8th)|
Breaking into the top six in the Western Conference was not in the cards for the Pelicans this summer in terms of perception. Sixth in the West ranks seventh in the entire NBA according to Schuhmann (Memphis Grizzlies) and eighth in Moore's rankings (Houston Rockets). The only way New Orleans moves up (in the West) is if they take it from one of the established Western Conference powers.
This Week: 8th (7th in Western Conference)
Can they keep their opponents out of the paint? It's still rather amazing that a team with Omer Asik and Anthony Davis ranked 22nd defensively and allowed the most shots in the restricted area. Gentry believes that improvement starts on the perimeter, where it will be on Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans to stay in front of the ball ... and also get it to Davis more often on the other end.
This Week: 13th (7th in Western Conference)
The Pelicans, like the Bulls, went with "Let's try the exact same ship with a different captain" plan. Can Alvin Gentry take them from a borderline playoff team to a contender? Their roster complications remain and Omer Asik cost them a lot of money for a guy they couldn't play in the playoffs. But they kept the Unibrow, so they won no matter what.
I suspect come October the other big outlets will be releasing updated versions along with a smorgasbord of computer projections and betting lines to cover as well. For now, these two brave power rankers are all we have to dissect. Enjoy!