October is slowly creeping towards us — which means meaningful NBA basketball is almost back in our lives!
There are many keys that give rise to the success of a basketball team. For the New Orleans Pelicans, they share many of the same as the rest of the association. But they also have a plethora of factors deemed ridiculous and are soon ignored or swept under the rug. We at The Bird Writes have decided to unveil them all. Here are five silly but true Pelicans keys to the 2018-19 season.
5. Darius Miller should start off the season with a shot off of the side of the backboard.
Long before the exciting three-point barrages, the Jamal Crawford-like four-point plays, and the solid pump-fake crossovers, Darius Miller was unsure of what to expect in his upcoming second stint with the Pelicans. However, after an offseason injury to Solomon Hill depleted the small forward position and the team had always been desperate for more perimeter shooting from the wing, Miller became an obvious candidate for big minutes off the bench.
True to form, Head Coach Alvin Gentry gave Miller plenty of opportunities early to cement his place in the regular rotation once the season began — but the first eight games didn’t go nearly as planned. After garnering double-digit minutes in the Pelicans’ first four games, he vanished almost entirely, averaging less than five minutes per contest over the next four contests.
Flaws were apparent from the get-go, but the biggest one was inexcusable: Miller failed to immediately provide the long-range marksmanship NOLA craved. He combined to shoot 2-for-10 from the outside and it was noticeable he lacked the right amount of confidence. Who could blame Gentry for quickly losing patience? However, after spending another week of not finding his stroke from deep, this strange event happened in an early road division matchup versus the Dallas Mavericks.
This seems so long ago Darius pic.twitter.com/Oq2EJf1aW2— Chris Conner (@Impatientbull) November 8, 2017
Miller appeared to hit rock bottom and was possibly on his last leg with the Pelicans in early November! It was difficult envisioning a way for him to rebound from this horrid start capped off by this latest embarrassing display. Miller, as we soon learned, had other plans, however.
We never witnessed another negative stretch quite like that. Miller finished that fateful night going 3-for-5 from deep and never looked back in the games that followed. Miller’s 2017-18 campaign started with a trio of back-to-back games where he failed to make a three, but after the game against Dallas, he never went more than one game without connecting from deep...THE REST OF THE SEASON!
The popular former Kentucky Wildcat went on to shoot 41 percent from long-range on the season, connecting on almost two a game. Miller also finished third in four-point plays, behind NBA MVP James Harden and Khris Middleton.
Thus, I’m campaigning for Miller to not wait until the ninth game to hit the side of a backboard this season — he should attempt the hideousness on his very first shot attempt. Hell, he can even make it a pre-game ritual if he likes. That would be much more entertaining than LeBron James’ powder toss or Robin Lopez assaulting random mascots anyway.
Start your season off with a bang Darius, even if it means an early trip to Dallas.
4. Ian Clark should never wear a headband again.
I love headbands; my childhood was filled with them. My favorite rappers wore them, and so did my favorite NBA players. And through the plethora of things DeMarcus Cousins brought to NOLA in his short stay, a headband-filled culture is one of them.
But they’re not for everybody.
Ian Clark, I’m talking to you.
Does anyone remember Clark’s horrid November in 2017? You know the month when he averaged three points per game on 27 percent shooting from the field and was a minus 16.6 on the floor?
Yeah, me neither, but do you know why we probably don’t remember? Because Ian Clark’s headband mysteriously disappeared shortly thereafter. Clark eventually went on to increase his point total every month that followed and was an essential part of a Pelicans bench that improved throughout the unit’s playoff run.
With eyes firmly planted on how the Pelicans will follow up their 2017 season, the bench has the potential to be even better. For Ian Clark to be apart of that bunch again this year, a headband should not be included.
3. Nikola Mirotic should never grow a piece of facial hair again.
I’m deadly serious, and if I could have things my way, he would be completely bald by the end of the regular season — right before the start of the playoffs!
Look, we’ve seen Mirotic sport that glorious beard, which should have landed him some part in a luxurious commercial or would have made for a good home for a feathered family, but for Niko to remain a part of New Orleans’ favorite bird organization for the long-term, a beard cannot be a part of the equation. Let’s pray for the inclusion of a clause in his next contract involving the regular use of Gillettes — it’s the best that this man can get!
If you don’t believe me, check out Mirotic’s stats after he shaved his beard on April 1st. He finished the regular season with a bang, ripped the Trail Blazers apart in round one, and his perimeter shooting proved important nevertheless in a losing series against the Golden State Warriors.
Nikola Mirotic per game stats, since he shaved his beard on April 1: 24.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, .570/.469/1.000 shooting, plus/minus of +18.5 per game https://t.co/QHiIICkXhK pic.twitter.com/JLlku9MLyV— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) April 20, 2018
And leave it to the city of New Orleans to know when something magical is in the air. Why not make the Mirotic Shave Station a staple? It makes for good family fun and it could pay off handsomely, leading to that unexpected promotion!
The Niko Mirotic shave station tonight in New Orleans. Fans can get a beard trim at the game. NikoTime has gone worldwide. It’s all happening. pic.twitter.com/Vw7E1xYcZU— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) May 5, 2018
In my opinion, the less hair the better for Niko. I’ll settle for whatever he feels is best for now — but if he comes into training camp looking like Stone Cold Steve Austin, I won’t mind that either!
Stay true to your fans please, Niko. Besides, who’s really been good recently with a long, scruffy beard long term in basketball history besides James Harden?
2. The Pelicans should burn their Mardi Gras jerseys.
And I mean all of them!
Every single variation!!!
I can’t think of anything positive to ever come out of the combination of New Orleans and a Mardi Gras jersey. From the Green Dragon looking one to the dark purple to the sleeves, and that weird light grape last season — they’ve all sucked.
The best two memories I can think of are this:
What do you think both of these years have in common?
INJURY AND MORE LOSSES THAN YOU OR I CARE TO REMEMBER!
Don’t believe in the curse yet? Here’s a random picture of former Pelicans forward Julian Wright holding up Darren Collison up by the armpits for your troubles.
Why is no one asking the tough questions. Like, where the hell are the Pelicans Mardi Gras jerseys? pic.twitter.com/6VhGT53izm— PodKATT (@valleyshook) February 17, 2015
At this point, NOLA could bring back that frightening King Cake Baby and an entire float on the damn floor if they like. Anything but those haunted jerseys is fine. Besides — it’s New Orleans — the city can easily find another way to celebrate the season.
1. Jrue Holiday must stick to one hairstyle: “Fro-Jrue”
Jrue Holiday played superbly last season. He was healthy, motivated, paid, and could focus completely on basketball, both physically and mentally, for the first time since he joined the Pelicans some time ago.
There were many rumored factors to be involved in Holiday’s career year during the 2017-18 campaign. Having a healthy home and family after going through a severe crisis for sure helped. Playing with an improved roster and embracing a slight role switch off-ball also had its advantages. But the most underrated is probably the hair.
It was the winning fro hairdo pic.twitter.com/xKsxZ2mamC— Adam Clausen (@adam_clausen7) April 5, 2018
The braids were a wonderful switch for Holiday and maybe that hairstyle unlocked powers we never knew he had. Fellow braid loyalist and rapper Pusha-T has always said: “The power’s in my hair.”
However, I’m a firm believer of the ill effects braids can have. It’s not difficult to imagine the tightness of some braids cutting off oxygen to Jrue’s brain, bringing about those few rough outings we remembered for far too long. This may be a ridiculous take, but is it really?
Does Kawhi Leonard leave San Antonio if he rocked a bald look?
No one will ever know.
Every version of self has a final form (for you Dragonball Z fans). Holiday’s clearly has to be the well maintained and popular fro with the tapered sides and back. It brought the best out of Jrue and it gave us some of our favorite Pelicans moments throughout the season. Yes, Portland Trail Blazers fans, you know what’s coming.
The disrespect here Jrue Holiday POINTS AT NURKIC. STOP THIS GAME. pic.twitter.com/9Px4A0zluU— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 20, 2018
According to the chart previously mentioned above, a full season of Fro-Jrue should bring a record of approximately 49-33. Given the depth of the Western Conference, we’ll for sure take that.
If you’ve ever had long hair, you know the freedom of just letting it do whatever it wants some days. We’re okay with 82 plus games of that freedom from Jrue Holiday as he and the New Orleans Pelicans look to ascend to even higher heights in the 2018 season.