09242017Headline:

A Pelican Preview

By Stefan Muro

 

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After a (45-37) regular season record and an unexpected 8th seed playoff appearance, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the upcoming NBA season and the New Orleans Pelicans. Most importantly, the Pels resigned
superstar Anthony Davis to a huge 5-year deal worth $145 million. Since then, he has expanded his shooting range to the 3-point arch and has gained over 12 pounds of muscle. He and teammate Quincy Pondexter hosted voluntary team workouts in Los Angeles over the summer; which every player attended. In May, the Pelicans fired head coach Monty Williams and hired former Warriors assistant head coach Alvin Gentry to replace him. Gentry’s fast and defensive system should favor the Pel’s offense because they were ranked as the slowest pace in the NBA last season, while needing to improve on a defense that was ranked 23rd in efficiency.

The Pelicans decided to build on their young nucleus, which averages 24.9 years of age, the 4th youngest in the NBA. They resigned players such as Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham, Alexis Ajinca and Luke Babbitt. The team has also added new faces such as veterans Kendrick Perkins, Alonzo Gee and rookie BryceDejean-Jones after missing the opportunity to sign Summer League sensation Seth Curry; who is the little brother of NBA champion and MVP Stephen Curry. The Pelicans biggest offseason struggle is the ability to keep starting guards Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, healthy and productive on a consistent basis. This means the team has higher expectations for combo guard Tyreke Evans.

The Pelicans will hold a media day on September 28, before leaving for training camp to address any issues the team may still have. From September 29 through October 2, The Pelicans will train at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The Greenbrier has hosted Saints’ training camp for some time and both teams have announced that they will travel together next offseason. Until then, fans are excited about the spotlight the NBA has put on the team and especially Anthony Davis. The Pelicans are scheduled to play 15 games on national television this year, compared to only 5 games last year. They include the NBA regular season opener against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, a Christmas Day game against the Miami Heat, and a MLK Day game against the Memphis Grizzles. Along with superstars Stephen Curry and James Harden, Anthony Davis will be a cover athlete for this year’s edition of the popular video game, NBA 2K16, which is scheduled to be released on September 29.

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