2016-17 Season in Review: 34-48, 10th in the Western Conference.
Key Offseason Acquisitions: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Ian Clark, SG Tony Allen, PG Frank Jackson, SF Darius Miller
Key Offseason Losses: SF Quincy Pondexter, SG Hollis Thompson, PF Donatas Montiejunas, PF Terrence Jones, PG Tim Frazier
2017-18 Season Outlook: The 2017-18 season is the most important season in the New Orleans Pelicans’ franchise history.
The Pelicans’ franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis is entering the sixth season of his career. Despite numerous injury concerns, he has made his name as one of the ten best players in the league. Unfortunately, his personal success has only led his Pelicans to one playoff berth.
If New Orleans wants to achieve its ultimate goal of keeping Davis for his entire career, it’s time for them to get good. In response, they have gone all in on this season. They gave up two of their biggest non-Davis assets at last year’s trade deadline — shooting guard Buddy Hield and their 2017 first round draft pick — in exchange for DeMarcus Cousins. Then they signed point guard Jrue Holiday to a long-term, expensive deal.
The team is capped out, and even though some flexibility will return after the year when Cousins’ deal expires, it feels like this may be it for them and Davis. If they can’t field a winning team this year, how could Davis continue to believe they’re capable of building a winning team around him?
Lucky for them, they’ve certainly given their star big the most talent he has ever had to work with. They brought in worthwhile NBA talent like Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, and Ian Clark — one of the best value signings of the offseason. And their core of Holiday, Cousins, and Davis can easily hang with the top talent provided by their playoff competitors like the Memphis Grizzlies, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Rajon Rondo on #Pelicans All-Star bigs: “My expectation for those guys is to be the two best big guys to ever play the game as a duo.”
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) September 28, 2017
They have some issues with fit, but they have a decent amount of versatility as well. They’ll need big contributions from E’Twuan Moore, and most importantly, they’ll need to find two-way wing minutes from someone after the unfortunate injury to Solomon Hill. They’ll be trotting out Darius Miller, and they have former Oklahoma City Thunder forward Perry Jones on a training camp deal. But chances are they will need Holiday to cover bigger guys, which is manageable, if not perfect.
Overall, the Pelicans have the most potential variance of any team in the league. If Cousins and Rondo buy in and Davis takes yet another step forward, they could end up with an outstanding season and an exciting future. If things go poorly, they could be looking to deal Cousins at the deadline — and Davis could be next.
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) September 25, 2017
Projected Strengths: Inside scoring, defense
Projected Weaknesses: Wing rotation, outside shooting
Projected win total: 43 wins