Can the Pelicans improve from the last seed in the Western Conference to the first seed? Unlikely. Can they snag a four or five seed? It’s quite possible. Here’s why.
*Photo via USA Today
The Pelicans lost 17 games last year by six points or less. If they had won all of those games, they would have been the second seed. Now, it’s unlikely to think that they will improve 17 wins over one offseason, but can they improve by nine wins? Yes. If the Pelicans can pick up nine more wins than they had last year, then they would be projected to grab the fifth seed, and maybe higher depending on how the division shakes out. *
*Photo via Fox Sports
As I mentioned here, Alvin Gentry is a game changer for the Pelicans. After a failed first tenure with the Phoenix Suns, Gentry is motivated to prove that he is better than a great assistant coach. He now carries the clout of a champion as he enters the Pelicans locker room. Players respect other players, but more than that they respect champions.
An Aging West:
*Photo via Getty Images
Let’s be honest. The West is loaded, but loaded with what? Aging superstars. Dirk, Duncan, Kobe, and Zach Randolph aren’t youngsters. Couple that with the fact that the Spurs, Grizzlies, Thunder, Clippers, and Rockets have been in the playoff for the past few years and you have teams with some tired legs. The Pelicans, on the other hand, haven’t made the playoffs (before last season) since Dirk got a ring.
What does all of this mean? Nothing if the Pels can’t close out close games, but if they can then expect a fourth or fifth seed from them.
*Stats provided by basketball-reference.com