Over the next month, Blazer's Edge will be rolling out season previews for all 30 NBA teams. Continuing this feature, we discuss the New Orleans Pelicans with Bourbon Street Shots staff writer Jake Madison. (Yesterday's preview: Detroit Pistons).
New Orleans Pelicans 2014-15 Season Preview
2013-14 Record: 34-48, No. 5 in Southwest Division, No. 12 in Western Conference
Roster additions: Omer Asik, Dionte Christmas, Jimmer Fredette, Kevin Jones, Vernon Macklin, John Salmons, Russ Smith (rookie, No. 47), D.J. Stephens, Patric Young (rookie, undrafted)
Roster subtractions: Al-Farouq Aminu, Melvin Ely, Anthony Morrow, Brian Roberts, Jason Smith, James Southerland, Lance Thomas
SB Nation affiliate: The Bird Writes
Blazer's Edge: A couple weeks ago, we had a discussion on Blazer's Edge about elite power forwards, and Anthony Davis' name was mentioned but debated quite a bit about whether or not he deserves the "elite" title. What are your thoughts?
Jake Madison: This depends if you mean right this actual second, or a month into the season? If Davis isn't considered elite then he's about to slam down an alley oop right through the door. He showed off his skill set for Team USA this summer and is coming off a strong year for the Pelicans. I'd say it's too early to label him the top power forward, but give it a month and I think people will be forced to list him along guys like Aldridge, Griffin, and Love. The return of a healthy Jrue Holiday should help Davis really showcase how unstoppable he is rolling to the rim, and if his defense and jumper improve it will be unanimous that he is elite by the end of the season.
BE: How does a frontcourt rotation with Davis, Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik work?
JM: It will work in a lot of different ways and that's one of the reasons this Pelicans team will be so interesting to watch. Having three bigs with vastly different skill sets will give coach Monty Williams the ability to force matchups by going with a big or small lineup. Anderson might see his minutes decrease, especially coming back from injury, but will still be a vital to court spacing with his ability to shoot from distance. Monty also said he expects to play Anderson at SF some this season. Defensively that would hurt the team, except it can be negated some by having Davis and the defensively dominant Asik down low.
BE: On paper, a backcourt rotation that includes Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon looks pretty good...why didn't things go according to plan last year? Do you expect it to click this year for these guys?
JM: The main issue was injuries. Evans was hurt at the start of the year and didn't come on strong till after the All-Star game. But after the break he really started to show why the Pelicans signed him to that massive contract. Holiday missed 48 games last year, and played through injuries for a good chunk of the rest. And Eric Gordon is, well, Eric Gordon. It's tough to develop chemistry and consistency when lineups are constantly changing. Hopefully the Pelicans get rid of some of that bad voodoo this coming season, though they are off to a bad start with the injury to Evans.
BE: Are there any youngsters on this team you think the rest of the NBA is sleeping on?
JM: Darius Miller is a guy who could see some decent minutes given the Pelicans lack of depth at the small forward spot. Miller has shown the ability to pass and move the ball very well when given the chance. If he can consistently hit the corner three he could be a useful floor spacer. Stepping up his defense would also earn him more minutes.
BE: What are your hopes and expectations for Luke Babbitt this year? He got an awful lot of coverage at Blazer's Edge when he was in Portland...
JM: If he keeps pump faking and bobbing his hair I will be incredibly thrilled. Hitting a few three's would be awesome, too.
Special thanks to Bourbon Street Shots staff writer Jake Madison for taking the time to discuss the New Orleans Pelicans' upcoming season with Blazer's Edge. Jake can be found on twitter @NOLAJake. Bourbon Street Shots has you covered for Pelicans news and analysis.
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