The closer we get to the beginning of the 2016-2017 NBA Season, it seems more and more likely that the New Orleans Pelicans are going to make Anthony Davis displeased at some point with the kind of teams being built around him, as once again it looks like the talent around him isn’t going to be enough in the changing, but still incredibly difficult Western conference.
The Pelicans were a disaster in 2015-2016, a year after making the postseason for the first time without Chris Paul, and for the first time in the Anthony Davis era. But instead of building on that, they fired Monty Williams and hired Alvin Gentry, hoping his offense mind, fresh off helping the Golden State Warriors win an impressive championship, will take the Pelicans and Davis to the next level.
The result? Only 30 wins last season, with Davis not looking like he improved one bit. Injuries were once again a huge part of the derailed season, as Davis played just 61 games, Eric Gordon only 45, Tyreke Evans only 25, Ryan Anderson 66, Jrue Holiday 65, and the list goes on. The Pelicans were bad without the injuries, but for a team that lacks depth and relies on the production of four players more or less, not to mention a bad defense under a coach who doesn’t know a lot about it, those injuries were something of a hurdle they couldn’t overcome or move around.
The Pelicans did change, but it doesn’t mean they got better. Anderson and Gordon are both gone, bolting to the Rockets. The Pelicans bet on Buddy Hield, who was massive for Oklahoma in his junior and senior years, but he just might be one of those players who puts up huge college numbers but struggles to bring more than occasional shooting to the NBA, and the Pelicans need a lot more from someone who is the sixth overall pick.
Langston Galloway was brought from the Knicks to help out, and he isn’t a bad pickup, but not exactly a team-changer. You can say the same about E’Twaun Moore, coming from the Bulls, who is a good defender and has his days, but is a decent pick for the 8 to 10 spots on the roster, not a starter or sixth man. Solomon Hill was brought over to help out in the extremely weak small forward situation, but he averaged only 4.2 points per game last season. Terrence Jones gets to team up with his Kentucky teammate, and maybe give the Pelicans someone who can help stretch the floor. They were only 18th last season in offensive rating, and a disastrous 27th in defensive rating.
Best Case Scenario
We being with everyone staying healthy, but making the playoffs, along with Davis moving up in the world to being a top-3 player in the league will make everyone happy. Holiday finally puts in a good & healthy season, Evans does the same, and additions like Hill, Jones and Galloway provide the depth the Pelicans have been missing for quite some time, bringing some points from unexpected directions. Moore, if he gets more minutes, brings some defensive toughness that’s been lacking for so long, and maybe even Omer Asik will look like a usable player from time to time.
Worst Case Scenario
Missing the playoffs would be bad, but it depends on how the season goes. Not coming close to contention would be a disaster, injuries or no. It would mean that going with Gentry was probably a mistake, and will start creating pressure on Davis to seek a future elsewhere, after signing what was at the time the biggest contract in NBA history.