Inconsistent is the best word to use describing these New Orleans Pelicans as they approach the midway point of the season. January has been a perfect example full of performances both promising and maddening. The last week was no exception. It began ominously as the Pelicans lost to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers; earning another tongue-lashing from Alvin Gentry in the post game. No problem, the team responded with a solid victory over the Sacramento Kings which they led for over 40 minutes and by at least double-figures for nearly the entire second half. Next up, a Ryan Anderson flambeau-esque performance to squeak New Orleans past the hot-shooting Charlotte Hornets with a gorgeous highlight to ice the cake.
Are the Pelicans actually good? No. Are they capable of being good on a particular night? Of course. There's plenty of talent to compete against anyone in the league; look no further than victories over both the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. The part that drives Pelican fans mad are the losses to the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks without four (!?!?) starters, or even the imploding Phoenix Suns in December. Those Suns are 2-13 in their last 15 games; one of their victories is a 104-88 blowout of the Pelicans!
New Orleans went 2-1 last week (Monday's loss to the Grizzlies came after Power Rankings were released) and hardly moved in the polls. The mediocre middle everyone says to avoid in the NBA? The Pelicans appear to be taking up residence.
Last Week: 23 - This Week: 24
Some hot 3-point shooting (mostly from Ryan Anderson) and a pick-and-roll alley-oop from Jrue Holiday to Anthony Davis have the Pelicans on a two-game winning streak. A big reason Davis had the space to roll on that play was that all five of the Pels' offensive threats were on the floor, but that was just their second offensive possession together in January. That unit has scored 99 points in less than 33 minutes together this season.
Last Week: 25 - This Week: 25
It's obviously not the most important thing in the world, but you have to wonder whether the Pels' struggles might affect Anthony Davis' All-Star candidacy. Wouldn't surprise us if it came down to The Brow, DeMarcus Cousins and Dirk Nowitzki for two spots on the West roster. Let's hope team success doesn't cause problems for the NBA's only player averaging 20-plus PPG, 10-plus RPG and 2-plus BPG.
Last Week: 25 - This Week: 24
Ninth?! Oof. Though Anthony Davis remains talented enough to waylay even the best prognosticators, the team around him is a mish-mash of talent and has never looked as good as it does on paper. It might be time for the Pelicans to shake up their supporting cast.
Last Week: 26 - This Week: 25
Back-to-back wins and the Pelicans' schedule is surprisingly soft the next two weeks. It's now or never for New Orleans. So, it will probably fall apart or get injured because this team's version of getting out of its own way is to jump in front of a train.