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2016-17 Season Preview: New Orleans Pelicans

Fran Blinebury

Fran Blinebury NBA.com

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Oct 12, 2016 1:02 PM ET

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Let’s just say that Alvin Gentry’s first season in New Orleans left him feeling like he was run down by a Mardi Gras float and left lying in the gutter with a whopping hangover. Sure, there were injuries. But everything else went wrong, including star Anthony Davis taking a step backwards. It’s time to pick up the pieces and get back in the game.

ICYMI

The Pelicans have added Danny Ferry in the front office to work with GM Dell Demps and the pair decided against blowing it all up after a 30-52 season ... Biggest addition is rookie sharpshooter Buddy Hield, who has already promised to fill up the basket and do many great things ... Also made a late addition of the itinerant Lance Stephenson ... Starting point guard Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely pending the outcome of his wife’s brain surgery ... Veterans Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon were allowed to walk in free agency ... Solomon Hill and  E'Twaun Moore were signed to add some defense and ability to run out on the wings ... Davis says he’s feeling stronger since coming back from surgery on his left knee and ready to pick up where he left off back in 2015 as the force that can lead Pelicans to the playoffs ... Gentry wants to run and push the pace and hopes to get a new beginning with a healthier roster from the start.

THREE POINTS

  1. Though there is no questioning his talents and status as a franchise player, the Pelicans must find a way to keep Anthony Davis on the court. After four years in the NBA, he hasn’t yet played 70 games in a single season.
     
  2. For a team that has Davis and big man Omer Asik on the front line, the Pelicans were a horridly ranked 27th in team defense a year ago. Since they are only mediocre on offense, stopping the other guys is key.
     
  3. It’s going to take a group effort to survive the first part of the season as the Pelicans open up without their point guard Jrue Holiday. While Holiday is taking care of his wife, his teammates will have to tread water.

MAN ON THE SPOT

Alvin Gentry was full of enthusiasm when he went from the Warriors’ top assistant to taking over in New Orleans. He said his Pelicans were ready to be a force in the West. Instead they went splat in his first season on the job and now he is already under the gun to produce.

STARTING FIVE

Jrue Holiday | 16.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.0 apg
He’ll have reins of the offense in his hands as soon as he can make it back.

Tyreke Evans | 15.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.6 apg
Up and down career as a scorer and offensive triggerman.

Omer Asik | 4.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.4 apg
Can’t run, jump or score. Has bad hands, but excels at pouting.

Dante Cunningham | 6.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
Versatile shooter who can guard both forward positions.

Anthony Davis | 24.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
Still the rising star that every GM in the league would love to build around.

KEY RESERVES

Solomon Hill | 4.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 apg
Solid defender who had good playoff showing with the Indiana Pacers last spring.

Lance Stephenson | 8.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
Low risk pick-up that could pay dividends if he clicks.

Buddy Hield | rookie
The question is whether Pelicans made right choice in taking him over Jamal Murray.

THE BOTTOM LINE

In a bind.  Superstar foundation Anthony Davis is locked down for another four years. But the clock is already ticking and the Pelicans will have to make progress to keep him long-term. There just aren’t pieces here yet to make that happen.  Not even a playoff threat.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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