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New Orleans Pelicans offseason ranked highly by David Aldridge

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Turns out signing one of the best players on the planet is looked upon favorably. Who knew?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

David Aldridge ranked every team's off season for NBA.com, an annual rite of passage as the NBA begins a month long vacation. Last year the New Orleans Pelicans ranked 23rd, just behind the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. Thus proving the value of "winning" the off season.

This year the Pelicans rank much higher, at 8th overall sandwiched between the Memphis Grizzlies (7th) and the defending champion Warriors (9th). Why do the Pelicans rate so well?

THE SKINNY: The Pelicans did their best work before July 1, when they hammered out a five-year, $145 million deal for Anthony Davis, keeping him from even hitting restricted free agency a year from now. With their franchise player under contract, everyone in N'Awlins can relax and see how much fun it should be with the Pelicans going all Seven Seconds or Less on everybody under Gentry. They don't have anything near the personnel the Suns did in their best days (y'all forget how devastating Amar'e Stoudemire was before his knees gave out on him), but guys like Eric Gordon, if he stays healthy, should thrive in the system. Everything you saw Golden State do last season -- pace, ball movement, tons of 3-pointers -- will be replicated at the Smoothie King Center. Not sure the Pelicans did much to improve a pretty pedestrian defense (22nd in defensive rating last season), though; Gentry didn't bring Draymond Green or Klay Thompson with him. And giving Asik $12 million per year doesn't seem prudent (yes, I know, Nikola Pekovic and Marcin Gortat got similar deals the last two summers). But if having Asik alongside him (and playing center instead of him) had anything to do with keeping The Brow happy and in town, it's the best $60 million Benson will ever spend.

Of course this continues to quote Omer Asik at a much higher number than what his contract actually guarantees; but hopefully you've read our explanation on the complexity of his unique contract. (TL:DR version - Asik averages $10.25M over the next four years, just $3M of his fifth year is guaranteed.)

Beyond that extending Anthony Davis for five years predictably earns extremely high marks. Think back to last season and all of the "should Anthony Davis take the qualifying offer? Will Davis leave NOLA soon? The Pelicans botched the rebuild!" think pieces written around the basketball blogosphere. Feels like ages ago.

Now the Pelicans need to win basketball games. Training camp begins in 42 days and the Pelicans are holding voluntary player work outs that begin today in Los Angeles. It's a great time to be a Pelican fan.