STAYING: Alexis Ajinca, Ian Clark, Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Solomon Hill, Jrue Holiday, Frank Jackson, Darius Miller, Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore.
ADDED: Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Jahlil Okafor (Brooklyn), Elfrid Payton (Phoenix), Julius Randle (LA Lakers), Kenrich Williams (TCU) and Troy Williams (New York).
GONE: Charles Cooke, DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State), Jordan Crawford, DeAndre Liggins, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo (LA Lakers).
STRENGTHS: Best big man in the league in Anthony Davis … Likely the only player in the Top 5 in scoring, rebounds and blocks this season … Massive impact on both ends of the court … Just too skilled, quick, long and athletic … Pretty good sidekick in combo guard Jrue Holiday, who comes off possibly his best season – which included erasing Damian Lillard in the playoffs … Nikola Mirotic is a fantastic fit as a stretch four with this team … That might be the case too with low-post bruiser Julius Randle … You can expect the Pelicans to push the pace and score a lot in transition.
WEAKNESSES: There’s not many quality NBA players outside the Top 4 … Even if they did very well without DeMarcus Cousins, there’s no question they took a step back talent-wise last summer … They don’t have much in terms of wing scoring … Not enough shooters to take pressure away from Davis … A winning season doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot in the jungle that is the Western Conference … If New Orleans stumbles out of the gate, whispers about Davis’ future will get louder … That’s quite a distraction.
PREDICTION: 3rd in the Southwest Division, 9th in the Western Conference.