Last year the New Orleans Pelicans took a big step forward as a franchise, making the playoffs as the eighth seed. They were swept by the eventual champions from Golden State, but there is no shame in that, and they weren't humiliated by any means. What mattered was not that they lost but that they showed that they are an organization moving in the right direction. Last year was just the beginning - or at least that's the hope of those in charge of the team.
2015 New Orleans Pelicans Betting Story Lines
The Pelicans, above all else, just need to stay healthy. Sounds simple, but in Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon they have two very talented but even more fragile players. Both get hurt so often that we are not even sort of shocked when they are out of the lineup. The problem, of course, is that those two make up the backcourt, and depth back there is not a real strength of this team. If they can stay healthy then this team is a lot more capable than if they can't. Your faith in the team to do big things, then, comes down to the faith you have in them to reverse their typical trends.
Their fragility is really the biggest issue with this team right now. Gordon is the most expensive player on the roster, and Holiday is in the top four. This team is all about putting the best talent around Anthony Davis that they possibly can, and that is tough when a significant portion of the payroll is paid to guys in the sick bay.
Speaking of Davis - the guy is a freak. Given his skill set, there is no limit to what you can say about him, or what he can do. This year he could prove himself to be no worse than the second best player in the league. The maturity and development he has shown is spectacular, and he already started at a very high level. This is the year of Anthony Davis - the first of many.
2015 New Orleans Pelicans Additions and Departures
The roster the team is going forward with this year is largely the same as last year. They took care of key free agents, locked up Davis for the long term, and largely stayed out of the draft. It was uneventful. The summer wasn't all the status quo, though, and it was the one key change they made that makes it so much easier to like this team.
Monty Williams was a bad coach. No sugar coating that here. His in-game management was a disaster, and it seemed like his entire strategy for the last two minutes of any game consisted of working hard to get the ball to anyone but Davis. He was a major liability. Firing him, pretty much regardless of who they hired to replace him, was a major gain. Fortunately, they made a pretty solid hire. Alvin Gentry has no shortage of experience, including stints as head coach of four franchises. Most recently he was the lead assistant for the Warriors last year when they won the title. He knows his stuff, is much better than Williams at managing games, and will almost certainly be better at utilizing the incredible tool that is Davis. This team got better - much better - as soon as they made a coaching change.
2015 New Orleans Pelicans Futures Odds and Trends
Last year the Pelicans were 45-37 both straight up and against the spread. That meant that they were slightly profitable on the season for bettors and were the seventh-best betting team in the league. They went over the total in 42 of their 82 games, so they showed no consistent tendency there - something that could change with the different philosophy of Gentry.
New Orleans Pelicans Futures Odds
NBA title odds : +3300
Western Conference title odds : +1600
Odds to win the Southwest Division: +800
Anthony Davis MVP Odds : +350 (second favorite)
2015 New Orleans Pelicans Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
With Gentry and Davis and the supporting cast, 50 wins is a reasonable target this year. If they can stay healthy then they can do that, and they will be a much more threatening playoff team than they were last year. Injuries and the lack of depth are a serious concern, though. The season win total in most spots hovers around 48 wins. I lean to the over, but there is no value here. Regardless, even their floor this year makes them a likely playoff team, while their upside could see them advancing as far as the conference finals if all goes well for them. In the brutally-tough Southwest Division all five teams made the playoffs last year, but Dallas isn't likely to do so again. The Pelicans should finish at least fourth in the division. Last year 56 wins won the division, while 54 would have finished fourth, so there is not a lot to separate the contenders. Finally, Anthony Davis will win his first of several MVP awards this year.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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