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Why you should care about Pelicans basketball this year
October 16, 2018
The most wonderful time of the year has arrived. The weather is getting cooler (get on your ****, Louisiana), spooky season is in full effect and the great show that is NBA basketball has finally returned. The season tips off on Tuesday, with marquee matchups featuring teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City Thunder. While watching Russ try his damnedest to knock off the defending champion Golden State Warriors and the fun-ruining, side-switching bum Kevin Durant will be fun, the real show begins on Wednesday for fans of the New Orleans Pelicans, as they take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
The Pelicans are fresh off one of the most successful seasons in their brief franchise history, capped off by embarrassing the Portland Trail Blazers in a first-round sweep and taking the superteam Warriors to five games. Led by the top-three player and superstar Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday’s lockdown defense and the smooth offensive game and sharpshooting big Niko Mirotic, the Pelicans finally had a core to build off of going into the offseason.
While most news of the offseason focused on DeMarcus Cousins’ trifling self-pulling and Rajon Rondo bolting to play with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pelicans may have actually improved on last year’s team.
The Pelicans added two pieces this offseason that have the potential to elevate the team to the next level. Forward Julius Randle former Lakers player, was added to play alongside Anthony Davis. Randle, who is only 23 years old, is a unique blend of power, speed and finesse. He can drop his shoulder and send opposing players to the ground in the paint or take a rebound all the way up the court for an easy layup. He is also an underrated passer, and he even added a three-pointer to his game.
Another major addition, point guard and University of Lafayette at Louisiana alumnus Elfrid Payton, is a playmaking downgrade from Rondo, but he makes his money by getting to the rim. Payton is also a better defensive option with his 6’4 frame. Payton likes to run in transition, which fits perfectly in the Pelicans offense, and he also cut his hazardous hair, so, hopefully, he’ll be able to shoot better. Both Randle and Payton also provide defensive versatility and prowess that Cousins and Rondo didn’t necessarily provide.
Other players to be excited about include E’Twaun Moore, also known as E’Twine because of his ability to get buckets, and Frank Jackson, an explosive rookie guard with a solid three-point stroke. Sharpshooter Darius Miller also comes off the bench to provide spacing for AD to work.
This should be an exciting year of Pelicans basketball. AD continues to improve as a player, which is mindblowing considering how great he already is, and he will make a strong case for MVP. Jrue looks to continue to ascend as a player and improve on last year, where he earned a spot on First Team All-Defense, as well as setting multiple personal career highs for the season. These two, along with Mirotic and Randle, give the Pelicans the best team they’ve had since the Chris Paul years. The potential is there. Let’s see if they can take the next step and emerge as a true contender for the coveted NBA title.