The New Orleans Pelicans had a somewhat quiet offseason in terms of additions, with new coach Alvin Gentry the only change to last years group. Instead, the Pelicans re-signed franchise player Anthony Davis (to a record breaking contract) and his frontcourt partner Omer Asik (more on him later). For now, let’s focus on what they added to the sidelines – Alvin Gentry as well as lead assistant Darren Erman. Gentry’s story is well documented; he and Mike D’Antoni developed the 7-seconds-or-less Suns offense and as lead assistant he has co-ordinated the Clippers and Warriors current offense – the two best in the league. The Pelicans actually had the 9th best offense in the league last season under Monty Williams, but for a team with the likes of Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson – not to mention Anthony Davis – Gentry could be a gamechanger. His main task will be unlocking the magic of Davis and finding the best way to showcase his vast talents within the New Orleans system, a task easier said than done. Gentry should add both pace and space to this team giving the Pels a look they’ve never had with Davis. They also added Darren Erman, who Davis stated “is one of the best, if not the best in the league, at coaching defense,” he said. “Every day when I’m on the floor with him, I can feel myself getting better. He just knows where I need to get better and what I’m capable of.” If this comes to fruition and Erman can transform this bottom-nine defense into one of the leagues best, the Pelicans will be incredibly dangerous this season.
The issue for New Orleans at the start of the season will be injuries to Pondexter, Evans, Ajinca, Cole and Asik. For a team without a lot of depth, losing these players is a huge blow, even if Asik is overpayed, overrated and can’t defend that well. Add to this that Jrue Holiday is on a minutes limit of 15 minutes a game for the start of the season and this team could get off to an extremely slow start. The Pelicans front office have done for Davis what the Thunder didn’t for Durant, changing coaches before the team reached their peak. The roster isn’t particularly strong, but if Gentry and Erman can unlock the best way to utilise Davis and the rest of the roster can stay healthy, this team could be a dark horse. But that’s a lot of ifs.
Projected Record: 48-34
My Predicted Wins: 40-45
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