2019-20 NBA Team Preview Series: New Orleans Pelicans
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The 2019-2020 NBA Season starts October 22nd and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the New Orleans Pelicans.
2018-2019 Record: 33-39, 4th in the Southwest Division.
There was optimism heading into the 2018-2019 season for the Pelicans. Last season they had not only qualified for the playoffs, but they swept the Portland Trail Blazers to advance past the first round for the first time in the Anthony Davis era. As the season got underway, though, it was clear the Pelicans were going to struggle to make the playoffs this season, if not outright miss out.
All that came to a head in late January when Anthony Davis requested a trade away from the Pelicans, preferably to the Los Angeles Lakers to team up with LeBron James. The trade deadline came and passed without a trade, but Davis stood firm about his decision to leave the Pelicans. Rather than risk injury to their trade asset, the Pelicans opted to keep Davis on the bench and tank the remainder of the season. They’d finish 13th in the West, way out of the playoffs.
Key Losses: Anthony Davis, F-C; Elfrid Payton, G; Julius Randle, F-C
Key Additions: Zion Williamson, F; Lonzo Ball, G; Brandon Ingram, F; Josh Hart, G; J.J. Redick, G; Derrick Favors, F;
The basketball gods smiled down upon the Pelicans in May, granting them the first pick in the NBA draft aka Zion Williamson. Then, the Pelicans turned a bad Anthony Davis situation into a monster haul from the Lakers, bringing in young talent and future draft picks. To cap off their near instant rebuild, the Pelicans added some veteran role players in Favors and Redick. Over one offseason, they completely overhauled their roster and built a young team around a potential generational talent, as well as stocked their cupboard with draft picks to be used in the future. It was a master class summer for new General Manager David Griffin.
The Pelicans are now one of the hottest young teams in a league and an almost guaranteed to be fun league pass team to watch. Williamson has embraced the Pelicans as his new home, and if preseason is any indication will be dominate at the NBA level. Just as importantly, there’s no huge expectations for the Pelicans to do anything this year. Simply play, have fun, get better, and look to be a contender in the future.
Players to Watch: Zion Williamson, F-C
Team X-Factor: Health, most of their young players have injury concerns
Worst Case Scenario: Williamson, Ball, and Ingram spend most of the year injured. The Pelicans finish near the bottom of the West again.
Best Case Scenario: Everyone stays healthy and develops the chemistry to be one of the most fun teams in the NBA. They shock the NBA by making it to the playoffs.
Actual 2019-2020 Prediction: 36-46, 3rd in the Southwest Division