The New Orleans Pelicans Begin Their Maiden Voyage

The New Orleans Pelicans Begin Their Maiden Voyage

 

The New Orleans Hornets officially become the New Orleans Pelicans on July 1, 2013. The name may be ridiculed by most, but this marks the first time since the initial incarnations of an NBA franchise in New Orleans (Jazz) that the team bears a name with a mascot that is relevant to the area. One thing that will be interesting aside from the players on the court is how their mascot will maneuver around the arena dressed as a pelican, but this will be realized in about four months. In the meantime, the Pelicans have a couple of major decisions to make (and one that they may rue making last summer) in order to become a playoff team in the Western Conference in the near future.

Last year, G Eric Gordon sought to sign elsewhere, realizing the then-Hornets were stocking up on players at his position (namely, rookie draftee Austin Rivers), and centering the team around rookie C Anthony Davis going forward. Considering that Gordon had a 4-year, $58 million contract offer sheet ready and available to be signed from the Phoenix Suns last season, it would have made fiscal sense for New Orleans to allow Gordon to walk. However, it ended up being less about Gordon’s contract details and more about the viability of the team as a whole in the 2012-2013 season with Davis and Rivers in tow. As fate would have it, the Hornets exercising their right of first refusal with Gordon (he was a restricted free agent at the time), may have set them back for several seasons. To add insult to injury – with no pun intended – each of Gordon, Davis, and Rivers were injured for long stretches of the season. In fact, Gordon and Rivers each, for all intents and purposes, missed the entire season. Neither had any real effect on the team’s (lack of) success, and now Gordon is virtually untouchable – except for a team like Phoenix, that wanted Gordon to begin with, and has the cap space to pull it off. The Pelicans may be able to go attain a mulligan for their handling of the Gordon contract situation last summer, as the Suns are about the only team that appears ready to strip its cupboard bare and begin to build around young talent. Gordon possesses those abilities. The question with him has been his injury history thus far during his short NBA career.

The Pelicans erstwhile have a few fine pieces that are better off as a sum total than individual talents. Players such as C Robin Lopez, F Ryan Anderson and Greivis Vasquez all had decent seasons, but they must play with more talented players in order to truly flourish. Lopez is rather offensively deficient, Anderson is mostly a spot up shooter, and Vasquez is a point guard who possesses the ability to score, even if it is at a rather inefficient rate. The Pelicans own the 6th pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft, and it is unclear upon which position they will focus. A great deal of the Pelicans’ decision-making going into the draft will be based upon who drafts Nerlens Noel (who the Pelicans do not need), Ben McLemore (who would be a good fit, but only if the Pelicans are able to trade Gordon), or Otto Porter (who is expected to remain in Washington and play in the Verizon Center, where he also played college basketball at Georgetown University. From that point, the draft is more of a crap shoot, and jockeying for future potential, draft pieces and/or need will determine who is chosen where. The Pelicans need a consistent outside shooter other than Anderson. They could use a solid power forward, which could have them leaning towards Anthony Bennett from UNLV, should he slip to the 6th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

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