Posted: September 10, 2013
With just two games remaining on our countdown of the top games from the PHILA BIG Game Plan, we look ahead to the Sixers’ November 29 meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pels’ first trip to Philadelphia since changing their name (from Hornets) earlier this summer also marks the return of point guard Jrue Holiday to the Wells Fargo Center. Holiday spent four seasons with the Sixers before being traded on draft night for rookie center Nerlens Noel and a first-round pick in 2014.
The blockbuster deal was one that helped both teams, but in different ways. It gave the Sixers a top-notch frontcourt prospect in a league bereft of star big men. It also equipped the team with an additional first-round pick in the highly anticipated 2014 Draft and created future salary cap flexibility. Moving forward, the move affords the Sixers a cleaner slate and a lot of valuable assets to work with as they look to build a team that can enjoy sustained success and eventually compete for a championship. For the Pelicans, the addition of Holiday pushes a talented, young New Orleans team into playoff contention and gives them an All-Star point guard to compliment Anthony Davis, who many believe is primed for stardom sooner rather than later
Playing alongside Holiday on the perimeter is the dynamic wing duo of Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. While Gordon, a 6-3 combo guard, has missed more games (97) than he’s played (49) in his two seasons in New Orleans, when healthy, he is one of the league’s best scorers. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 20.0 points and 3.9 assists; during that time, 48.4% of his points have come off of three-pointers and free throws. Evans, a 6-6 point forward who came to New Orleans this summer via a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings, is an efficient scorer (50.8 effective field-goal percentage last season) and skilled playmaker (5.0 assists per game over his career) off the dribble.
At power forward, Ryan Anderson is a dangerous pure shooter whose 6-10 frame allows him to get his shot up over most any defender. With a trio of dangerous ballhandlers in Holiday, Gordon, and Evans and a skilled offensive big man in Davis, the floor spacing created by Anderson’s shooting range will be key to the success of the Pelicans this season.
Pelicans’ Key Offseason Moves
As mentioned above, the Pelicans added another player with Philly roots, Chester native Tyreke Evans, in addition to Holiday. Evans was selected fourth overall out of Memphis in 2009 and won Rookie of the Year honors after leading the Kings in points and assists (20.1 and 5.8) during the 2009-10 season.
The team also added three-point specialist Anthony Morrow and defensive-minded center Greg Stiemsma via free agency and acquired Kansas center Jeff Withey in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.
• The Pelicans’ oldest player is Greg Stiemsma (27), who was born on September 26, 1985. There are currently nine teams whose rosters average 27 years or older.
• New Orleans hasn’t had a player other than Chris Paul or David West make an All-Star appearance since Baron Davis and Jamaal Magloire did so in 2004.
• The Pelicans are the first franchise since the Washington Wizards (formerly Washington Bullets) to change their name without relocating. Coincidentally, the Charlotte Bobcats recently announced plans to follow suit, taking on the Pelicans’ former name, Hornets, beginning in 2014-15.