The ESPN Future Power Rankings are back and the New Orleans Pelicans moved up a single spot, from 18th last May into a 3-team tie at 17th today. Interestingly, the team’s 46.3 overall score tied them with both the Denver Nuggets and the Washington Wizards. In case you’re not aware, these rankings are based on the combined projected success of all the NBA franchises over the next three seasons.
After suffering major disappointment in 2015-16 and watching a series of offseason moves that lacked both star power and proven advanced stat producers, it’s not surprising to see Kevin Pelton and Chris Ford decide to keep the Pelicans tethered to the middle of the pack.
With a pair of key talents (Anderson and Gordon) departing for Houston, the Pelicans bet on youth and defense in free agency, signing role players Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore to provide more two-way talent on the perimeter.
Those additions mean New Orleans is counting on Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to supply scoring and shot creation. With Holiday planning to miss the start of the season to tend to his pregnant wife (former USWNT star Lauren Holiday) after she undergoes surgery to remove a benign brain tumor, that could be problematic -- particularly with fellow guard Tyreke Evans out indefinitely because of knee surgery.
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The Pelicans biggest negative among the five graded categories was management, coming in at a ranking of 27th with a score of 25. That’s a noticeable slip from less than five months ago where the Pelicans received a management score of 32.5.
Conversely, the Pelicans best grade was the draft component (6th). With the organization possessing all of their draft picks (more than likely the Pelicans will keep their 31-55 protected 2017 2nd round pick conveyed to the Timberwolves) and boasting an additional 2017 Philadelphia Sixers 2nd round pick, New Orleans has a lot of good assets sitting in the cupboard.
What do you guys think? Is this a fair ranking of the Pelicans? Why or why not?