New Orleans Pelicans basketball is back, and the vibe since media day has been clear as a bell. From Dell Demps to DeMarcus Cousins to Anthony Davis, the team has consistently pointed to a single common goal: winning basketball games.
Undoubtedly, several prominent faces are on the hot seat and a lot of players are competing to validate new contracts after the 2017-18 campaign, yet the confidence levels have been unmistakably positive. The Pelicans not only believe they’re underrated within the Western Conference, but that a special season could be on the horizon — Rajon Rondo went as far as to whisper the championship word!
Speaking of Rondo, he appears to have already cemented a central figure role. While everyone always expected Davis and Cousins to lead New Orleans, the fact that Rondo seems on equal footing among the superstars speaks volumes about the amount of trust he has already earned from teammates and coaches alike. The hope, of course, is he can maintain a high degree of respect throughout an 82-game schedule.
The biggest question that needs answering in training camp is how the coaching staff replaces Solomon Hill’s minutes. Alvin Gentry discussed the idea that a permanent starting small forward won’t be named and instead Dante Cunningham, Tony Allen, Darius Miller, E’Twaun Moore, and Holiday on occasion, will all get an opportunity.
During Wednesday’s practice, Cunningham, Moore and Miller all spent time running with the Pelicans four known starters. Expect one of these players to be in the starting lineup on opening night against the Grizzlies, but unless someone grabs the bull by the horns, the situation is probable to remain fluid pending matchups.