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Pelicans must hope for chaos to avoid logging a season on the treadmill of mediocrity

Expectations for New Orleans are the worst imaginable. A season not good or bad enough to matter at all.

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NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Computers and NBA pundits agree, the New Orleans Pelicans are expected to put forth an uninspiring 2016-17 season. Yesterday I took a look at computer models, which expect the Pelicans to win between 35 and 39 games. Today let’s focus our eyes on NBA experts.

The good folks over at CBS Sports had five different writers project how many wins New Orleans will rack up this season. Their totals? 34, 34, 35, 37, and 42. Only Ananth Pandian puts the Pelicans above .500. USA Today also guesses 34 wins. Hoops Habit is also expecting 34 wins in the Crescent City. ESPN’s Summer Forecast from July put the total at 35 wins. Kevin Pelton’s RPM-based computer model places expects 37 wins.

If you’re keeping track that’s 12 different predictions. Ten of those put the win total between 34 and 37 wins. Just Ananth Pandian (42) and Nick Restifo’s Hopefully Possible computer model (39) go higher than 37. That’s a remarkably tight grouping from a wide variety of methodologies.


If I could eliminate one five win band of potential outcomes this season it would be roughly between 33 and 38 wins. Any total of 32 wins and lower gives the team a high selection in a loaded 2017 NBA Draft. Any total 39 wins or greater probably means the Pelicans were in contention for a playoff spot for a great deal of the season unless the Western Conference as a whole returns to completely dominating the East. And yet both pundits and computer models agree this mediocre result is the most probable.

This Pelicans team is not sufficiently young enough, like the Minnesota Timberwolves, to truly celebrate a “building year” that still ends up well outside the playoff picture. Not with so many rotation players in their mid-to-late 20’s. Another middling performance could (and likely will) be explained away by any variety of circumstances, ensuring continuation of an uninspiring status quo. The treadmill of mediocrity that fans like those of the Philadelphia Sixers rejected? That is clearly what most projections expect for New Orleans.

Hope for chaos. On either end of the widely accepted outcomes for the New Orleans Pelicans lies hope. Vastly outperform expectations and Anthony Davis and company find themselves in the playoff hunt. Even falling slightly short in the final weeks or lasting four games against the Golden State Warriors provides a spark of belief in the organization and fan base. Another wave of injuries or a team completely failing to gel means ping pong balls and frequent visits to Draft Express.

Defy expectations this season Pelicans. One way or the other. Prove those pundits and computer models wrong and give a fan base the hope it craves.