The New Orleans Pelicans matched a franchise record this past Friday with the announced 13 nationally televised games for the 2018/19 regular season. The Pelicans will play these games on both ESPN/TNT, as well as seven additional matchups on NBA TV — that’s practically a 1⁄4 of the schedule!
Included on the schedule, the Pelicans will appear in 13 back-to-backs, just under the league average of 13.2, and avoid the dreaded four games in five nights at any point during the season.
The Pelicans made headlines this past week by signing the number three overall pick from the 2015 NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor, to a lightly guaranteed two-year deal.
The former Blue Devil looked promising in his initial viewing as a rookie with 17.5 points per game to go along with seven rebounds, but took a step back in his sophomore season due to injuries and competition. The 76ers collection of big men in Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric, and Richaun Holmes managed to keep Okafor on the bench.
With lingering injuries to his ankle, hamstring and knee, Okafor almost found his way to New Orleans near the trade deadline of 2016 but wasn’t dealt until nearly a year later to Brooklyn, which wound up a forgettable stint.
According to reports, Jahlil Okafor has worked diligently in Miami this past offseason, losing 17 pounds under the watchful eye of top athletic trainers in David Alexander and Idan Ravin.
The good news: It won’t take much to crack the 15-man roster. In all likelihood, it will only mean usurping the elder Emeka Okafor, who turns 36 years old later this month.
Emeka played brilliantly in his limited time in 2018, but can his health be managed over an 82-game season? Should the Pelicans opt instead for the 22-year-old Okafor with the higher upside at this point in his career or stay the course with the steady veteran?
Anthony Davis for MVP
The ESPN Forecast Panel has their eyes set on Anthony Davis. With 64 votes, AD is close behind perennial favorite Lebron James for the game’s greatest individual award. Davis will inevitably have the numbers, but will the Pelicans win enough games to merit taking home the 2019 Most Valuable Player Award?
Finally, the team at The Bird Calls answers your questions including the odds of an Elfrid Payton breakout, the likelihood of Frank Jackson joining the regular rotation, and of course, delve further into solving the minutes equation for Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic.
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Let’s Geaux Pels!