NBA purgatory is a special place. No general manager plans on winning 40% of their games but a myriad of circumstances put teams in that haunted place every season. Be awful on purpose or contending for a playoff spot are the preferred methods each and every season. Ask the Phoenix Suns how overachieving one year can throw an entire plan out of wack and get a head coach fired.
On the other side of that coin are the teams that fail to reach expectations, regardless of whether those expectations are realistic or not. For the New Orleans Pelicans this season expectations were high. Improve on a 45 win campaign under a new head coach implementing an exciting new brand of basketball. Injuries, adjusting to the new scheme, a brutal start to the schedule, and the players on the roster simply not fitting together can all be blamed in one respect or another for this season failing.
Regardless of why this season is a disappointment the fact remains that it is an abject failure. In order to reach the Vegas over-under line this team would need to finish the season 30-5. Just to meet last year's record requires a 27-8 run to April 13th. This morning I surveyed four prominent projections for playoff odds. The odds are decidedly not in the Pelicans' favor.
|Proj W||Proj L||Playoff %||Draft Position|
|Five Thirty Eight||35||47||10%||T-8th|
Even finishing with the eighth worst record gives New Orleans a 10% chance at a top three pick at the lottery. As the Pelicans improve the expected return of their pick begins to drop significantly, as this handy chart from Hoopshype demonstrates.