2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: New Orleans Pelicans
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the New Orleans Pelicans.
48-34, 2nd in the Southwest Division. Lost to the Golden State Warriors 4-1 in the Conference Semi-Final.
The New Orleans Pelicans played above potential in the 2017-2018 season. Shockingly they played their best basketball after losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season as they morphed from a traditional outdated low post playing team to a run and gun Alvin Gentry-fied run offensive blur. Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday became focal points in a successful campaign that included a first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. Anthony Davis continued his assent and established himself as a legitimate top 5 player in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo, PG; DeMarcus Cousins, C
Julius Randle PF; Elfrid Payton, PG
Player to Watch:
The 2018-19 New Orleans Pelicans may be a little less veteran savvy with the departure of Cousins and Rondo but should essentially pick up where they left off last year. After Cousins went out with his Achilles injury, the Pelicans became a much better team as Alvin Gentry implemented a game plan that played more to the team’s strength. While Elfrid Payton is no Rajon Rondo, the addition of Julius Randel fits the Pelicans schematic more than Cousins ever did. Randle is an athletically gifted forward and should fit nicely alongside Davis giving the Pelicans one of the better front courts in the West with the potential to be offensively devastating in the paint and in transition. Jrue Holiday is one of the most underrated guards in the league and is coming off a career year. His importance doubles two-fold as he will be required to become more of a playmaker in the absence of Rondo. If he is to do this, the Pelicans should easily be the second-best team in their division. And of course, there is the Brow himself, Anthony Davis, an unmatched talent and one of the three best big men in the NBA. The Pelicans should also be improved on the defensive side, something that bolsters their case of possibly being a top 5 team in the West.
Worst Case Scenario:
Rondo turns out to be the cog that made this machine run at full power and in the wake of his departure, the Pelicans look unorganized on offense causing them to fall to .500, missing the playoffs altogether.
Best Case Scenario:
Davis and Randle complement one another, dominating inside while Holiday delivers another career year. Their defense slow teams enough to the point where the Pels speedy offense overwhelms in transition, leading to a Top 4 finish in the West and home court to start the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
45-38, 2nd in the Southwest Division