In the dictionary under "disaster" is a picture of the Pelicans' 2015-16 season, They were coming off a 45-win season and seemed to be a team in the express lane to the promised land. Pretty much everything went wrong last year, though, and they limped to 30 pathetic wins. The bottom fell out, and it was just horrible. Injuries were a major factor in what happened - only two players on the roster even managed to play as many as 70 games, and many key players played well under that number. They were a ridiculously bad 9-32 on the road - only truly awful Philadelphia, New Jersey and the Lakers had worse marks. They also were just 4-12 in their division. It's a tough division, but still. It was just a total disaster of a season, and it deflated hopes and expectations for this team immensely - as the 36.5-game season win total indicates. The question, then, is which team is the real New Orleans - the pathetic mess of last year or the dominant climbers of the year before.
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2016 New Orleans Pelicans Betting Storylines
It's all about Anthony Davis here. He has the potential to be the best player in the NBA, and he has performed at a very high level often in his four-year career. He's made of glass, though - he has not yet played as many as 70 games in a season. He's their best player at both ends of the court by a wide margin, so for this team to succeed he simply needs to be on the court. It would be very useful for him - and his reputation - to find a way to stay healthy and contribute through the year. If he does get hurt early this year then I really suspect that the bottom could fall out for this team. They feel that fragile.
Some things are bigger than basketball, and the team has had a sad reminder of that this year. Jrue Holiday is on an indefinite leave as he tends to his pregnant wife who is dealing with a brain tumor. We have no idea how long he will be gone - it could be weeks, or it could be the whole season. He's by far the best playmaker the team has. In his absence a lot of pressure is on guys like Tim Frazier to step up and perform at a high enough level to fill the gap. Not ideal.
Defense has been an issue on this team. They can't stop anyone from scoring, which puts too much pressure on them to score, which in turn puts a heavy burden on Davis - one he obviously can't handle physically. Again, Davis needs to lead the way defensively, but it needs to become a focus of the whole team - one they are bought into in a way they clearly weren't last year. Quincy Pondexter is banged up to start the season, but he is one guy in particular who can and must play a big role defensively.
2016 New Orleans Pelicans Additions and Departures
There was a whole lot of shuffling here. A lot of guys moved on, but the two that really hurt because they were good role players are Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, who both went to Houston. Potentially key additions include Langston Galloway, E'Twaun Moore, Terrence Jones, Solomon Hill, and Lance Stephenson. None are difference makers by themselves, but role players are key, and the hope is that this is a better - or at least more durable - collection than they had last year.
The highlight addition is Buddy Hield, the sharpshooter from Oklahoma who vaulted into prominence with his college heroics last year. He's a stone cold shooter who should find his way into the rotation in the backcourt fairly soon - especially if Holiday is out for an extended period. The team also traded two second-round picks to move up to grab Cheick Diallo, the big man from Kansas.
2016 New Orleans Pelicans Futures Odds and Trends
There was no worse team to bet on in the NBA last year - which means there was no better team to bet against. They were a lousy 36-46 ATS. They went "over" the total 43 times and "under" just 38, so the tiniest of profits could be made on the over.
New Orleans Pelicans Futures Odds (from Bovada)
NBA title odds : +10000
Western Conference title odds : +5000
Anthony Davis MVP Odds : +1000 (fifth best)
Buddy Hield ROY Odds : +1400 (fifth best)
Season win total (from Westgate): 36.5
2016 New Orleans Pelicans Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
I want to believe in Davis. He's such a special talent. At this point, though, it is sadly smarter to have your doubts. I don't think this is going to be a great team. They are not likely to threaten for a playoff spot, though they should exceed last year's win total. It is possible that they will be much better than that, but at this point it would surprise me.
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