Believe it or not, we're approaching the 1/3 mark of the season. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being they're a 100% lock), how hopeful are you about the New Orleans Pelicans finding their way into the 2018 playoffs and why?
I’m a very strong believer in this roster. I have my issues with Alvin Gentry’s philosophy, but I’ve seen it working better as some of our role players like Darius Miller and Jameer Nelson have emerged. The West is beat up and the lower half of the top half have had a lot of question marks — injuries and gelling issues.
Our team is constructed in a way that causes most teams to adjust to us, which is what good trend setting teams do. Also, if you want more proof that Dell is on the right track, look at the lineup the Spurs roll out every night: 2 centers and a power forward sized guy who can play 4 positions.
As long as we stay relatively healthy, I don’t see why we wouldn’t fall between the fifth and 8th seed. The only reason I’m not giving us a 10 is our history of not staying relatively healthy.
With the Anthony Davis injury scare behind them, I give the Pels a solid 8 in 10 chance to make the playoffs. This years version of the Pelicans definitely have the talent to make the postseason; however, injury luck, especially in the front court, going forward will be key as New Orleans doesn't have much depth at the 4 and 5 positions.
Pelicans fans have to be excited with the way Jrue Hoilday has played lately. His play is slowly inching closer to his pay grade. If defensive assistant Darren Erman can get this group playing more consistent defense, I don't see any way they miss the postseason with relative health. Add to all this the fact that the West isn't as tough as we thought due to several keys injuries around the conference, it's hard to see these Pels sitting at home for the playoffs. Let's just pray for health.
It can be hard to hope when you have a Pelicans team that conquers a Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers team so voraciously while playing subpar basketball against bottom dwellers in the Lakers, Kings (twice!) and Hawks. And yet, the Pelicans find themselves exactly where we hoped they'd be at the quarter mark of the season at 13-13, and not only that, they've stayed remarkably healthy (for the Pelicans).
With teams like the Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz, and Nuggets suffering major injuries, in addition to the floundering Thunder, the Pelicans could daresay find themselves in an enviable position if they can put together a strong December followed by a very winnable schedule in January/February. We've also seen productivity from a bench mob that includes strong playing veterans in Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and Omer Asik (gasp!) to go along with a Darius Miller risk that is paying off big.
With that being said, this team will always be one Boogie temper tantrum away from becoming a ticking time bomb. But so far, so good! I say 7!
Prior to the start of the training camp, the Pelicans appeared a near playoff lock because of the historical success of teams which fielded two or more recent All-NBA players to make to the postseason.
Twenty-six games in and the Pelicans sit at an even .500, clinging to the 8th and final spot in the standings. For as many good wins as they’ve recorded, they’ve had an equal amount of could have beens, should have beens — and definitely several major disappointing losses.
Although the mixed bag, I still favor the odds of a postseason berth occurring more so than not. Until the dud to the Kings last Friday night, the play of the Pelicans had been trending upwards despite missing Davis for three games. The key obviously for any middle tier team striving for the playoffs is health, but New Orleans needs to also strengthen a defense that continues to give up too many easy opportunities: fastbreak points, points off of turnovers and second chance points. If they do that to some degree successfully, we’ll have enough reasons to still believe!
This is as hopeful as things have been since days long past. AD and Cousins have basically proven to be the dynamic duo we all hoped, Rondo has been a difference maker (and don’t forget those early Jameer-only games, too!) and E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller have been important shot makers.
New Orleans may hit some road bumps, but as we discussed before the season, the schedule has some relatively easy periods, too. I’m thinking 6 might even be a bit low, but it IS the Pelicans, after all, so doubt sits in the back of my mind.