The New Orleans Pelicans are drawing mercifully close to the end of the 2018-19 campaign, but before they get there, they’ll be forced to stare into a chasm of the failures of the past eight seasons.
The previously named Hornets (again from Charlotte) should have landed Anthony Davis in 2012 had the lottery gods been kinder. However, they were instead saddled with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and eight seasons later the two franchises’ win loss totals (NOP 250-320, CHA 252-317) further highlight the series of mistakes each squad has made.
Now at the precipice of losing both of their stars, each team has again slid from playoff contention and into yet another offseason of uncertainty. The Hornets remain desperate to overpay Kemba Walker while the Pelicans will likely overhaul their front office in hopes of a steadier hand.
The Pelicans are probable to rest everyone of consequence sans Julius Randle (index finger sprain) and Elfrid Payton (finger, ankle, etc) as has been customary of late (AD, Jrue, Moore, Miller will sit), though the status of Frank Jackson remains to be seen (concussion protocol). 78 games into the season, it has to be disappointing that Trevon Bluiett will likely miss the entirety of a regular season that could have used another developmental body.
The goal remains to lose and improve lottery odds. Interim general manager Danny Ferry preached ‘competing every night,’ but the statistics tell a different story. Over the past 15 games, the Pelicans are 3-1 and have the league’s second-worst net rating -10.7, trailing only the New York Knicks. With 32 wins, the Pelicans find themselves tied for eighth, with but 1⁄2 a game separating them from sixth (Memphis, Dallas).
Unfortunately for Pelicans’ fans, the Hornets find themselves in a similar boat. The Magic, Nets, Pistons and Heat have all surged ahead of the 35 win squad by at least three games with only five left for the Hornets to play. It would take a miracle for James Borrego’s squad to make it. While this try hard group may seek to close with a 40-win sum total to end the season, the more likely strategy would be to maintain their hold of 11th or even slip past Minnesota to tenth and improve their odds of a top-4 pick from 8.0% to 13.9%.
The 2018-19 Hornets are 19th in pace, 14th in offense and 23rd in defensive rating. Over the past 15 games, they have the league’s fourth-worst net rating -7.1, and have won just six of nine. Jeremy Lamb (15 points per game) has been Kemba Walker’s (25 points per game) second-banana during this time drilling a buzzer beater from past midcourt this past week against the Raptors, and he’s been aided by Dwayne Bacon (11 points per game) and Frank Kaminsky (11 points per game).
Make no mistake, the Pelicans are going to play a lot of ugly basketball over the final week of their season, and it may not get uglier than this (PHX on Friday may be worse!. But at the season draws to a close, one only need look to the Charlotte organization as a reflection of a decade of a unrealized potential.
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) vs Charlotte Hornets (35-42)
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
When: Wednesday, April 3, 2019. 7:00 PM CST
How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO