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Season just starting for the New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis, Dirk Nowitzki

 

By Alvaro Pena

The Pelicans season has just started, so Pelicans fans just calm down and don’t FREAK OUT! This is a team that has not played together throughout an entire NBA season because of sustained injuries. The lack of chemistry is obvious, especially between the guards. Even with all their struggles, they are placed in the 6th spot for the playoffs and will go up a few spots if they maintain a balance approach to each game.

Pelicans guards Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon seem to be struggling on the court together. They haven’t found a connection out in the perimeter and Gordon seems lost in the offensive side of the court.

Eric Gordon is averaging 8.1 points, 1.8 assist and 2.6 rebounds in the last eight games. He went scoreless against the Dallas Mavericks and had no field goal shot made against the Charlotte Hornets. Since he joined the New Orleans Hornets for the 2011-12 NBA season, his point averages have been decreasing yearly. But a good effort against the San Antonio Spurs got him reenergized. On Nov. 10th against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pel’s ran early plays for Gordon in a way to get him out of his recent shooting woes. Against the Spurs and Cavs, Gordon was able to reach double digits in scoring. He also seemed to be getting back into game speed by moving well inside the offence and regaining his jump shot stroke.

Jrue Holiday struggled in the opening game but has lifted his play recently against topnotch teams. Holiday is averaging 16.3 points and 6.9 assists in thirty-four minutes of play. In the 2012-13 NBA season, Holiday participated for his first All-Star game representing the Philadelphia 76ers. That year he averaged 17.7 points and led his team with an average of 8 assists a game. He is not far now from getting back to his All-Star form. Holiday is most definitely important for the Pelicans to move into playoff contention. With the league filled with talented point guards, especially in the Western Conference, Holiday’s health needs to be at 100 percent to compete against guards like Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Mike Conley, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry. His defensive presence will be needed in the playoffs.

Once again the New Orleans bench have not performed up to expectations. Not counting Ryan Anderson, the only other bench player that has brought energy into the game is Austin Rivers.

Rivers has been a disappointment since his rookie year in the league. But he promises that this 2014-15 NBA season will be his breakout year for the Pel’s. This offseason he went through hard training to improve his jump shot and ball handling ability. He also added weight, so that he can endure an entire NBA season and to have the ability to withstand the toughness of stronger players beneath the basket.

Though it’s not a breakout season so far, Rivers has a look of confidence that was missing in his two previous years with the Pel’s. He now understands what his role is within the Pelicans organization and appears committed to bring a pass first mindset off the bench. There are also signs that he has changed his overall gameplay that he brings to the game. Knowing that he is a poor shooter, Rivers has changed himself to a mid-range shooter and a distributor of the ball. Rivers is averaging 8.4 in points and 2.6 in assists. It’s higher from last season but his effectiveness to the game is far more positive. The year is too young but maybe his game will elevate with more playing time.

Having Ryan Anderson come off the bench as the 6th man has been brilliant. Most would say that he fits better as a starter but having his barrages of three-pointers to regain or to extend a lead when starters are resting has helped the bench be productive. The Cleveland Cavaliers got the full wrath of Anderson’s shooting ability on Nov.10. Anderson scored 32 points and made 8-12 three-pointers for the game. Anderson is averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 rebounds, while shooting over 40 percent from mid and long range.

Starting forward Tyreke Evans has entered the season much improved in shooting and distributing the ball. What’s most impressive is his ability to find the open player. He is averaging 7.1 assists a game which leads all players on the Pel’s team. Most surprising is his new found shooting stroke that has contributed in 12 three-pointers and a shooting percentage 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Though he is not averaging 20 points a game since his rookie year, Evans is a much improved player from a rebounding and assisting perspective.

The New Orleans Pelicans are not what they were a year ago; this team has learned how to play together in a matter of eight games into the season. They are playing with impressive offensive balance, which is hard to achieve when you have so many talented players that want to score the ball. And with Anthony “The Brow” Davis leading the charge, the Pel’s will shock the league and shut the mouths of all whom doubting this team’s ability to run with the elite teams of the Western Conference.

 

 

 

 

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