STAYING: Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik, DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Crawford, Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Solomon Hill, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore and Quincy Pondexter.
ADDED: Ian Clark (Golden State), Charles Cooke (Dayton), Frank Jackson (Duke), Jalen Jones (Maine Red Claws), Darius Miller (Brose Bamberg) and Rajon Rondo (Chicago).
GONE: Quinn Cook, Dante Cunningham, Tim Frazier (Washington), Donatas Motiejunas (Shandong Golden Stars) and Axel Toupane (Zalgiris Kaunas)
STRENGTHS: They may have the best power forward and center in the game … Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are devastating forces in the paint with an ever-improving outside game … While Cousins is mostly focused on scoring, Davis is one of the top two-way players in the league … He should be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate again … By all accounts, Cousins is in far better physical shape than he used to … If he starts running back on defense, that could be a big thing for New Orleans … They were outrebounded on a nightly basis last season … That should obviously change this year … Jrue Holiday will start the season with the team this time, which should help chemistry.
WEAKNESSES: Durability … This team has been badly hit by injuries that last few seasons … Both Holiday and Davis tend to miss a significant amount of games … New Orleans could have done a far better job of surrounding David and Cousins with shooters … Two dominant big men and not enough outside shooting goes counter to what is typically working in the NBA these days … The team may be better on paper than on the court … They have a pretty big hole at the small forward spot … At this point in his career, Rajon Rondo may be one of the worst starting PGs in the league … Does it make sense to have Holiday playing at the two most of the time? … Subpar depth … Cousins and Rondo have been notorious locker room lawyers in the NBA … Combine that with Alvin Gentry‘s weak position and it could make for an awkward dynamic.
PREDICTION: 3rd in the Southwest Division, 9th in the Western Conference.