NBA basketball games that count begin in less than 24 hours. The preseason is officially over, and the New Orleans Pelicans made their last move earlier today by waiving Alonzo Gee, trimming the roster to the required 15 players. With basketball on the way, that means power rankings are back!
If you want to remember (or, possibly forget) last year, the Pelicans started in the top 10 in nearly every power ranking we tracked only to finish the year in the bottom 10. Maybe this year their fortunes will turn and we can look at this post in six months and laugh at how wrong everyone was on this team.
The schedule is not particularly forgiving in week one. After starting the season against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday in the Smoothie King Center (tickets are available on third party sites at substantial discounts), the Pelicans will host the juggernaut Golden State Warriors on Friday (those tickets are not so cheap!) then travel to face the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. Those Spurs will be rested so the Pelicans first back-to-back also features their first rest disadvantage. They will be similarly disadvantaged three more times before December while receiving a scheduling advantage only once.
Last Season: 25 - This Week: 26
At this time last year, we had the Pelicans at No. 9 and 86 percent of GMs said Anthony Davis was the player they'd most like to start a franchise with. This year, Davis got just one vote and, even if he plays more than 68 games for the first time in his career, some of his complementary weapons are no longer around. Buddy Hield could be a rare rookie who makes a positive impact on his team's performance, but the Pels are already banged up, are missing Jrue Holiday for an unknown period of time, and ranked last in preseason defense.
Last Season: 27 - This Week: 26
The Pelicans start the season without their two best perimeter players in Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. They also face an early home date with the Warriors, with memories of what Steph Curry did at The Blender on Halloween night last season still fresh: 28 points in the third quarter and 53 overall. How long Anthony Davis has to carry the Pels without Holiday and Evans, as well as Davis' own health, will determine whether New Orleans has any shot at joining the playoff hunt.
Last Season: 27 - This Week: 24
Off-season tinkering aside, they’re perpetually an Anthony Davis injury from irrelevance.
Last Season: 25 - This Week: 19
Remember when we told you that E'Twaun Moore was one of the biggest steals of free agency? He's playing like it, and if he has a big show-up campaign for New Orleans, it could change the course of their season.