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New Orleans Pelicans start preseason with poor 0-3 record but don’t panic...yet

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The team has looked and played terribly, but it’s hard to envision this becoming the norm rather than the exception.

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After the first week of the preseason, the New Orleans Pelicans remain winless in the standings. They’re only one of three teams yet to notch a W in the win column. Perhaps worse, they’ve gone 0-3 to the Eastern Conference, losing to the Bulls, Hawks and Knicks — three teams who combined for a record of 80-166 during the 2017-18 regular season.

Yeesh is right.

Also: don’t panic.

Last season, the Pelicans went 1-3 during the exhibition portion of the schedule but rolled to a 48-34 record afterwards. Scanning through previous years also proves that preseasons should not be trusted. Have a look at how the team performed in games that count vs. don’t count since Anthony Davis joined the squad back in 2012-13.

Preseason Record Regular Season Record
2017-18 1-3 48-34
2016-17 1-5 34-48
2015-16 3-4 30-52
2014-15 5-2 45-37
2013-14 7-1 34-48
2012-13 4-4 27-55

The bigger takeaway, in my opinion, is simply that the team has strung together too many putrid stretches, and that needs to, and likely will, change.

  • Per Alvin Gentry, coughing up 23 turnovers which led to 32 points for the Knicks last night is a sample that’s beyond brutal.
  • The Pelicans own an 89.2 Offensive Rating thus far — last season, the Suns finished with the league’s worst ORtg at 100.8.
  • The Pelicans are averaging a weak 12.7 fast break points per game. They averaged a league-best 19.1 fast break points after DeMarcus Cousins ruptured an Achilles.
  • New Orleans is giving up an astounding 65.3 points in the paint — by far the worst mark in the league.

Very little has gone right so the 0-3 record is completely justifiable, but don’t let that be the end all, be all in your assessment. I’ve witnessed a lot of chemistry issues through the first three games where players are not in correct positions, making passes to teammates who are not ready to receive and the flow in general has looked too dysfunctional. Also, the team has executed poorly and the effort hasn’t always been up to snuff. When you add all of this to some of the worst shooting figures from the field and a terrible free throw conversion rate, failure is overwhelmingly going to be the likeliest outcome.

Of course, all of this isn’t an excuse but merely an explanation. Undoubtedly, the Pelicans will need to sort out a lot more things than the rest of the league at this stage. Maybe it’s time to make some decisions on most of the non-guaranteed contracts so that the focus is primarily given to the regular season rotation. Or perhaps the players should consider increasing their levels of concentration and effort as a whole.

The Pelicans have 10 days left before they must face the Houston Rockets in the season opener on October 17th. The numbers say New Orleans has the talent, but so far it’s mixed like oil and water.