After a trip to the second round of the playoffs last year, the New Orleans Pelicans once again have playoff aspirations for the 2018-19 season. With 5x All-Star Anthony Davis in the mix, the sky’s the limit for the Pelicans.
The Pelicans had an interesting off-season, opting to let injured center DeMarcus Cousins walk in free agency despite trading for him less than two years ago. There is no doubt that New Orleans played their best basketball after Cousins went down with the achilles injury, which certainly played a role in the decision. Now Anthony Davis has more space to operate as a starting center with shooters and defenders surrounding him. Expect Davis to emerge as a legitimate MVP candidate, impacting the game at an elite level on both ends of the floor. Davis’ ability to create plays off the dribble, shoot mid range, finish with authority in the paint, and protect the rim defensively make him one of the game’s all-around great superstars. The new-look Pelicans create an optimal situation for Anthony Davis to thrive in.
New Orleans made one of the most underrated moves of the off-season by signing Julius Randle to a 2-year, $18 million contract. Randle should fit in nicely next to Anthony Davis in the frontcourt, providing a much needed burst of energy, playmaking, and versatility. The Pelicans also signed point guard Elfrid Payton to replace the departed Rajon Rondo.
Point guard Jrue Holiday enjoyed one of the best, if not the best, seasons of his career last year for the Pelicans. Holiday emerged as one of the best defensive guards in the league, playing a crucial role against Damian Lillard in the Pelicans first round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. Offensively, he averaged 19 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds, all while shooting 49% from the floor. If the Pelicans want to make a deep playoff run, Jrue Holiday will need to play like an All-Star.
Nikola Mirotic was a huge pickup for the Pelicans last season. His shooting and scoring ability at the power forward position helps space the floor and create room for Anthony Davis and the guards to navigate the paint. Mirotic will once again be a major asset for the Pelicans. Look for E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill to also play important roles on the wing for New Orleans.
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