Does the following make sense, especially when New Orleans was ranked 13th just one year ago?
At first glance, it's hard to fathom. Let's quickly scroll through some of the highlights over the course of the last year.
- The Pelicans won 45 games last season, 11 more than in the 2013-14 season.
- They made the playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
- Anthony Davis continues to edge closer to his prime, setting records along the way, and he just committed to five additional years in New Orleans.
- During the off-season, the Pelicans fired Monty Williams, widely regarded as a stale coach who failed to get the most out of the team on both ends of the floor, and replaced him with a duo of Alvin Gentry and Darren Erman, two of the brightest minds with respect to both offense and defense.
Yet, the Pelicans were only worthy of being moved up one lousy spot. The youthful team sits just two spots ahead of the Mavericks who continue to rely on father time staying away for another year. The explanation given actually doesn't sound negative at all. Here is part of it, but for the entire blurb, please visit ESPN Insider.
With Davis signed to a new five-year extension, New Orleans will have key decisions to make as contracts for Ryan Anderson (2016), Eric Gordon (2016),Tyreke Evans (2017) and Jrue Holiday (2017) end. Those expiring contracts give the Pelicans the flexibility to add via free agency if Davis proves a draw. And they have all of their future first-round picks after trading them away each of the last three years.
The problem, though, were the grades of the individual categories. The math just doesn't add up. The Pelicans received grades of 63 for players, 42.5 for management, 50 for money, 36.5 for market and 45 for draft. For a breakdown of each category, read through their definitions HERE.
The Pelicans have Anthony Davis, who many expect will be the best NBA player in the very near future and for a very long time in New Orleans; however, their market score placed the team 21st, behind such stellar destinations like Charlotte (38.5) and Orlando (55). Say WHAT?
As ESPN's excerpt above mentions, the Pelicans currently have all of their future first round draft picks. Yet, they tied with the Mavericks in the draft category with a score of 45, a team who traded away a 2016 first round pick for Rajon Rondo. Lol.
The Pelicans finished 19th for management. Although their score of 42.5 noticeably improved from last season's 33, it is still woefully short. As I mentioned back in April, Dell Demps deserved another contract extension for guiding the Pelicans to improvement every season, filling the roster with young talent and making shrewd additions through the course of the 2015 season. It appears those who hated Demps trading for Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik will carry their bias to their graves.
Perhaps my biggest beef with the rankings, though, is the players score of 63. Despite ranking 8th on the list, it's disheartening when factoring in New Orleans received a players score of 67 a year ago. The Pelicans dropped 4 points notwithstanding Davis signing a 5 year extension, the bench has better depth, and outside of Holiday, the rest of the personnel are primed for fantastic seasons.
Meanwhile, the Thunder scored a 71 in a category that is defined as follows.
Current players and their potential for the future, factoring in expected departures
ESPN even admits that Kevin Durant could leave after this season and/or Russell Westbrook the next. Or how about the fact that Durant played a total of 913 minutes and there are no guarantees he has overcome his foot issues?
I dunno guys, but I'm just not a fan of their subjective analysis due to the fuzzy math. It's as though the Pelicans didn't get enough points for having the best player in the NBA the next 6 years, are about to get out from under Eric Gordon's max contract and have a youthful core that is brimming with talent, excitement and about to be utilized by two coaches with proven track records.
Methinks ESPN dropped the ball again.