The New Orleans Pelicans will kick off their preseason schedule tonight against the Bulls in Chicago. With the contest airing on TNT, the entire national audience will get a first glimpse of a team predicted by many to be on the rise in the Western Conference.
Well, except for the vast majority of NBA general mangers, apparently.
The results of the 2022-23 NBA App GM Survey were published today and the top decision-makers across the league had lukewarm feelings at best about the Pelicans.
For instance, eight other Western Conference teams finished with more top-4 votes than New Orleans, including the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nine teams not named the Pelicans were picked to have the most efficient offense this upcoming season. That’s mildly surprising. Following the CJ McCollum trade, New Orleans fielded the ninth-best offense. And now that same squad has a healthy and motivated Zion Williamson in the mix.
Brandon Ingram, despite his otherworldly performances in the play-in tournament and playoffs, wasn’t mentioned once as an answer to any of the 50 questions.
Neither was Herb Jones, even though there were three defensive questions he should have merited consideration (best defensive player in the NBA, best perimeter defender in the NBA, most versatile defender in the NBA). And yet Andrew Wiggins’ name appeared in two of the three categories?
The best explanation for these low-ball predictions likely stems from the fact that many GMs are unsure of what to expect from the Pelicans. Case in point, they placed fourth in the team’s level of success this season is toughest to predict question.
Amid the survey positives, Willie Green received votes for being a head coach who is the best manager/motivator or people, the Pelicans have one of the best promising young cores as well as have a good chance of being most improved, and Dyson Daniels received votes for “Which rookie will be the best player in five years?” and “Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?”
Williamson was listed among the answers to two different questions: 14% of GMs believe he is the likeliest player to enjoy a breakout season and 7% consider him the most athletic player.
In an interesting question that points to the Pelicans having excellent veteran leadership on the roster, Garrett Temple and CJ McCollum finished second and third respectively to which active player will make the best head coach someday.
To be honest though, whether they’re good or bad, predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. What matters is that a Pelicans team which brought so much excitement due to a lot of late-season success to the region will partake in their first game action tonight, including some guys named Zion Williamson and Dyson Daniels.
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (0-0) at Chicago Bulls (0-0)
When: October 4, 2022, 8:30 p.m. CT
Where to watch: TNT
Where to listen: WRNO 99.5
For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.