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2017 ESPN Summer Forecast predicts high bust potential for New Orleans Pelicans

Rajón Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and a perennial losing team — what could go right?!

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans made some changes to the roster this offseason and are expected to be a fully functional unit for the first time in years at the start of a campaign, but ESPN’s 2017 Summer Forecast believes the bust potential remains higher than ever.

The first problem in their eyes is the addition of Rajon Rondo. ESPN has ranked him as the third worst newcomer to a team based on his history and their uncertainty on how the experiment in New Orleans will unfold.


Then, in addition to Rondo, ESPN is concerned about the repercussions of another potential slow start, the attempt to play through both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the small ball era and Jrue Holiday’s move to shooting guard.


One year ago, ESPN was much more hopeful about New Orleans prospects, ranking them in a tie for fourth to have the biggest turnaround. Well, we certainly had front row seats to that dumpster fire of a prediction, so maybe they’re just as likely to miss the mark by a wide margin again?

Personally, I think it’s just too easy to see the faults of a team in this type of exercise, one that throws hot takes and worst case scenarios into a subjective bag and then swirls it around. I could do the same thing for the other 29 teams in the association.

NBA: Preseason-Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There is no denying Cousins and Rondo have not helped matters at one time or another, but isn’t it more important to have a stronger analytical approach in making such determinations? I give more credence to what Boogie did on the floor in his short stint last season with the Pelicans or that a Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rondo starting trio was a bad idea from the start for the Chicago Bulls.

When Cousins was surrounded by Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill and Holiday last season, the group was an effective force and now they’re surrounded by more legitimate talent. And as far as his destabilizing personal conduct, Boogie picked up just one technical foul in 17 games for the Pelicans and his relationships with Dell Demps and Alvin Gentry appear on fantastic footing.

Meanwhile, Rondo’s floor general skills and lack of a potent three-point shot should not conflict nearly as much next to Holiday and Hill as it did alongside Wade and Butler. The Pelicans have been a team starved for high IQ and solid decision-making for some time. Then when you factor in the presence of those known to be able to communicate with Rondo — like Darren Erman and Boogie — shouldn't it lessen the chances of the point guard going rogue?

Make no mistake, I fully understand the risks, but I also firmly believe the evidence has not been properly weighted in this opinion. I mean, seriously, the Los Angeles Lakers made the 2017 Team Turnaround list! Hey, I like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram for a lot further down the road, but I can’t be alone in thinking that the Pelicans have a better chance of improving on their 34-win total from last season than the Lakers do on their 26 wins, right???