The New Orleans Pelicans missed the playoffs and a .500 W/L record by a wide margin similar to the 2015-16 campaign. Yet, unlike Alvin Gentry’s first go around, there were substantial differences between the two seasons. The first was overcome by a laughable amount of injuries, but the latest was saddled with offensive ineptness until a trade for DeMarcus Cousins seemingly swung the door open to NBA relevancy.
With such a mixed bag, how would you rate this season as a whole on a scale of 1 (dumpster fire) - 10 (raging success)?
I would rate this season a solid 7. Going into the season I figured the Pelicans may be a borderline playoff team and even though we fell short of my hopes, there were some obvious improvements to our defense and roster. Outside of adding the best center in the NBA to the team, the Pelicans also signed a few bench contributors like Jordan "Instant Grits" Crawford and Quinn Cook. Even though we saw a team that looked lost at times with no clear direction for much of the campaign, I am more optimistic about next season than I have been since Gentry's arrival.
As pessimistic as I have been about the job that Alvin Gentry has done since taking over as head coach, I do see a much brighter future even if he is retained. It's a weird season to judge because it had so many twists and turns. It was like Fight Club wrapped inside of Psycho stuffed in the Usual Suspects and sauteed down in Shutter Island — we never knew what was happening next, but the outcomes were always interesting at least.
I'm not sold on Gentry, but he did show that he was able to adapt on the fly. The head coach changed the way he used DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis together rather quickly and it resulted in a very promising streak of success after initial stumbling. Add this to Darren Erman installing a defense that works well even when he had to drag and drop players due to roster shuffling and injuries and you’ve got something positive brewing.
Most importantly, however, the team has two All-Stars that are in the top 5 at their positions while in their primes. They are at positions that create huge mismatches on the floor for opponents thanks to the duo’s skills and athletic abilities that allow them to offset the competition's strengths. If both of these players play at least 70 games each next season, this is a playoff team regardless of the coach and roster around it. So in that sense, it has to be viewed as a success even though there is still some baggage.
I'd rate the season a 4, as only a couple of predictable downturns that were devastatingly major offset quite a number of pros. The first flaw is obvious in my opinion — the coaching. It's blatantly obvious that Alvin Gentry's time in New Orleans should be up, and a clean, offseason break is preferable. No hard feelings, but the man just isn't the right fit as a head coach here as other coaches on the market are much more adept to handle a two-bigs system. Other problems might not be so curable, such as the Asik contract or the health of Pondexter, so Dell Demps needs to be closely evaluated before being allowed to continue.
David: 3 and 9
I have two scores here. The actual on-court product gets a 3. Despite good health and trading for DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans fell short of the Vegas O/U line. I gauge that line as roughly a 5 with historic (read, worse than this season) health.
However, in terms of progress toward becoming a perennial playoff team, this season rates as a 9. The trade for DeMarcus Cousins was simply that good for the long term picture. It will be a failure of monumental proportions if Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins cannot turn this franchise into, at minimum, the Memphis Grizzlies. Blame will be passed along and you can guarantee far too much will be placed on Boogie's head.
I'd give the season a four. Not bad enough to be considered awful, not good enough to be considered even mediocre. Just...meh. There was an 0-8 start to begin the season and a double digit win month of March with a whole lot of mediocrity in between.
The Pelicans did win four more games this year than last so I guess that technically qualifies as a more successful season than last year's injury riddled disaster. New Orleans is who we thought they'd be: just an okay team that can be frisky enough to beat some of the league's best but bad enough to get got by some of the scrubs.
The Pelicans were headed towards a low grade from me, thanks to consistently performing like a below average team, until DeMarcus Cousins arrived in New Orleans. Have a look at how the Pelicans performed in each quarter segment of the season. (For practical purposes, I excluded the final four games of the schedule because it was readily apparent the team let off the gas once they were eliminated from postseason play.)
|Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating||eFG%||opponent's eFG%|
|Games 1-20 (7-13)||101.1 (21)||103.2 (14)||-2.0 (18)||49.3% (23)||49.7% (12)|
|Games 21-40 (9-11)||101.3 (28)||103.5 (6)||-2.2 (19)||48.8% (28)||50.1% (7)|
|Games 41-60 (7-13)||103.5 (24)||108.5 (18)||-5.0 (25)||51.5% (16)||52.5% (25)|
|Games 61-78 (10-8)||108.1 (11)||103.0 (4)||+5.1 (6)||52.2% (12)||50.5% (8)|
Once Boogie surpassed a week in his new uniform, the Pelicans played really well. How about a top-5 defense coupled with a near top-10 offense over an 18-game stretch? That’s tangible evidence of something worth getting excited about and building on for next season.
Jrue Holiday’s extended absence to begin the season made it an uphill battle, and by golly, the Pelicans almost climbed out of that hole. The fact remains though: starting the season in such miserable fashion pretty much made missing the postseason inevitable.
Ryan: 5 or 6
I would rate this season at about a 5 or 6. I was expecting, like most people were, a big boost after the All-Star break with the acquisition of Boogie, but it wasn’t there. The Pelicans barely won more games than they lost.
For the season as a whole, they did not exceed or meet the expectations everyone had for them at anytime. The franchise still has a lot of question marks at a number of positions before they should consider themselves contenders in the West.
I'd call it a 5. We saw an excellent Anthony Davis have another stellar season. He's right in the beginning of his absolute prime and he's an individually great player worthy of an All-NBA nod, especially if you consider him a center. But after that, we're looking at a question at point guard in both playing style and contractual terms with Jrue Holiday shifting to the two at the end of this season. The Cousins trade at least amps up the "win now" feeling that fans and the team must have, but is the AD/Jrue/Boogie big 3 good enough to manufacture a 5-seed next year? I don't *think* so. So, just another middling year for Nola.