NBA season preview: New Orleans Pelicans


STAYING: Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Tim Frazier, Alonzo Gee, Jrue Holiday and Quincy Pondexter.

ADDED: Quinn Cook (Canton Charge), Chris Copeland (Milwaukee), Shawn Dawson (Maccabi Rishon LeZion), Cheick Diallo (Kansas), Langston Galloway (New York), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Solomon Hill (Indiana), Terrence Jones (Houston), E’Twaun Moore (Chicago), Robert Sacre (LA Lakers) and Lance Stephenson (Memphis).

GONE: Ryan Anderson (Houston), Luke Babbitt (Miami), Norris Cole, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Toney Douglas, James Ennis (Memphis), Eric Gordon (Houston), Jordan Hamilton (Tofas) and Kendrick Perkins.

STRENGTHS: Anthony Davis … An impact player on both ends of the court with great skill, size, athleticism, energy and motor … He hinted at MVP contention two seasons ago and could be back in the mix this year if healthy … Lots of size up front with Davis, Omer Asik and Alexis AjincaBuddy Hield is one of the most ready-made rookies this season … Should be a contributor right away … Low-risk, high-reward gambles on Terrence Jones and Lance Stephenson, who were signed for the minimum.

WEAKNESSES: Quite an unimpressive supporting cast … They have many serviceable players, but very few who would be locks to start on good teams … The absence of Jrue Holiday‘s, the Pelicans’ second-best player, makes matters way worse … Playmaking takes a massive hit … No obvious No. 2 option … New Orleans has been badly hit by the injury bug lately … Davis has missed at least 14 games each of his four seasons as a pro … Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter will not be ready to start the season … They have good potential as a defensive team, but it was certainly not realized last season with the Pelicans in the Bottom 3 in Defensive Rating.

PREDICTION: 5th in the Southwest Division, 11th in the Western Conference.



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