Many fans started this season with extraordinarily high hopes for the Pelicans. I even personally wrote an entire column that was dedicated to how grateful the fan base was to have a "good" team to root for. After 53 games, in which the Pelicans managed to go a measly 20-33, it has become clear that whatever hopes fans had of the Pelicans "taking flight" has been thoroughly grounded by the harshness of reality.
There was one person, however, who has never believed in this team and had the audacity to tell us long before the season started, "Hope is not a plan." Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to eat some crow. Fletcher Mackel was right. Hope is no longer a plan for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans are bad. Not just bad in the sense that they are bad with some object hope of getting better in the near future. The Pelicans are hopelessly bad. The kind of bad in which fans stop showing up to games and start turning off their televisions.
In a report by the Sports Business Journal, it was found that the Pelicans rank last in their market for local TV ratings, averaging a stupendously depressing 7,000 local viewers per a game.
In relation to the Pelicans already low local viewership rate, it was found that the Pelicans also had the second most viewers tune out on this season. The Pelicans are averaging about 30% less local viewers than the year previous.
The Dope of Hope
Last summer, Fletch told us that the Pelicans were going to be bad. He even had the brazen audacity to predict the Pelicans would miss the playoffs. One good thing that comes out of being wrong, is it gives you the opportunity to reflect on why you were wrong.
So why were many of us so wrong about the Pelicans? For starters, we all have our bias in desire to watch, cover, and talk about good basketball. If you look back on what propelled many of us to proclaim that the Pelicans would have a better year, it becomes pretty clear that bias seem to have taken full effect,
The fact that the Pelicans made the playoffs the previous season, is maybe the biggest smoke and mirrors playoff run ever. The Pelicans made the 8th seed basically because of one single three point shot AD made to beat an the Oklahoma City Thunder. If AD doesn't make that shot, Pelicans don't make the playoffs. Plain and simple.
AD did make that (AWESOME) shot, however, so the Pelicans did make the playoffs. Yet, once in the playoffs, it became pretty evident that the Pelicans did not belong. They would get swept by the Golden State Warriors.
There were also many more warning signs that the Pelicans roster, as constructed, was not actually good. For one, most of the players tend to play lower IQ basketball, instead of smart basketball.
In addition, the Pelicans were pretty bad for most of the year, at least until Dell Demps made a trade for Norris Cole and Quincy Pondexter. Those two players, for whatever reason, would go on to play at their maximum capabilities and that helped the Pelicans make the playoffs.
It is clear now that Norris Cole is not as skilled as he showed at the end of the 2014-2015 NBA season. It should be noted that same logic likely applies to Quincy Pondexter as well. All season we have said ______ player will make this Pelicans team click, and every time ______ player disappoints.
The cold hard truth is that the Pelicans, as currently constructed, even if completely healthy, just aren't all that good.
Abandoning Hope for Realistic Optimism
Just because there exists no reason to be a hopeful Pelicans fan anymore doesn't mean that you can't still optimistic about the Pelicans. The team still has a true super star in Anthony Davis, and a guy who looks like he could be the second or third best player on a good team in Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans will also have all their future first round draft picks and some cap space to help them start the rebuild.
That being said, going forward, we all should be more skeptical about the front of house's plan to make the Pelicans better. We all know now the pain of a lost season, and as Fletch said, hope is not a plan.
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