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New Orleans Pelicans Team Overview
2012-13 record: 27-55
Fifth place, Southwest Division
Did not make the playoffs

DRAFT PICKS:

Round: 1

#6 Nerlens Noel (Traded to Philadelphia 76ers)

Pre-Draft Analysis

Areas of Strength
Last year's top draft choice Anthony Davis, who started the season slowly due to injury, improved steadily and doesn't have anybody questioning his selection. He should be the anchor on the front line for a long time. Ryan Anderson was a shrewd acquisition with his shooting ability and Greivis Vasquez had a breakout season as a contender for Most Improved Player.

Needs Work
Their team defense only looks good on the surface because they play at such a snail's pace. They actually ranked 28th in the league. Another year has gone by and the Pelicans still cannot be sure where they're going with shooting guard Eric Gordon. The injuries continue. He played just 42 games and you get the feeling that despite what he says publicly, Gordon's heart doesn't seem to be in New Orleans for the long term. Last June's other first round draft pick Austin Rivers didn't inspire confidence that he can be the long term answer at the point.

Two Stats That Matter
25 -- Their rank in field goals attempted. You can play all of the hard-nosed defense in the world, but the name of the game is still putting the ball into the basket.

95 -- The number of games missed due to injury -- out of 148 -- by Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon in his first two seasons in New Orleans.

The Way To Go
This is definitely a team that could use a solid big man in the middle to play in tandem with Anthony Davis and this year's draft offers plenty of choices among top flight centers, including Alex Len (stress fracture), Rudy Gobert and Cody Zeller. But having possibly swung a missed a year ago on Austin Rivers as the potential long-term point guard/quarterback of the team, they might it hard to pass on the leadership skills shown by Michigan's Trey Burke in the NCAA Tournament run.

2012-13 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 94.1 (25th
Defensive: 97.9 (14th)

Under Contract
G: Eric Gordon
F: Ryan Anderson
F/C: Anthony Davis
C: Robin Lopez
C: Jason Smith
G: Austin Rivers
G: Greivis Vasquez
F: Darius Miller
F: Lance Thomas
G: Brian Roberts

Free Agents
G: Matt Carroll
F: Al-Farouq Aminu
G: Xavier Henry
G: Roger Mason
C: Louis Amundson

Recent Draft History
2012: Anthony Davis (1), Austin Rivers (10), Darius Miller (46)
2011: Josh Harrellson (45)
2010: Cole Aldrich (11)
2009: Darreb Collison (21)
2008: Darrell Arthur (27)


-- Fran Blinebury