Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: New Orleans Pelicans Season Preview

New Orleans Pelicans Season Preview
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 22: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks against against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Petersen Events Center on January 22, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Even though the NBA season ended in June, things are never slow in the NBA, and the New Orleans Pelicans 2019 season preview shows an interesting offseason. The team entered a rebuild by trading Anthony Davis. However, the rebuild was sped up when the team won the NBA Draft Lottery.

New Orleans Pelicans 2019 Season Preview 

Recap of Last Season

Things were a mess in New Orleans this past season. The team came into last season with some hype after reaching the second round of the postseason the season before. However, things went south quickly.

After a 4-0 start to the season, the Pelicans found themselves sitting at 15-20 after a 122-119 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on December 26th.

About a month later, the team learned that its franchise player, Anthony Davis, would not sign an extension after the season. This complicated an already tough season.

Following this news, a race was on to see if the team would trade Davis before the trade deadline. It was no secret that his preferred destination was the Los Angeles Lakers.

Eventually, it became clear the Pelicans would not be trading Davis, but things continued to be a mess. With Davis, the team was 25-31, without Davis the team was 8-18. Not good either way.

Offseason Changes

This roster is completely turned over from last season. Things started in a big way well before the actual offseason got started. In late May, the Pelicans came out of nowhere and won the NBA Draft Lottery, and thus, the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

Come draft night, the team made the obvious choice by drafting the Duke University superstar. They were not done turning over the roster, however.

On July 6th, the team made the trading of Anthony Davis to the Lakers official. In that deal, the Pelicans received: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, and a bevy of draft picks.

The Pelicans did end up trading the rights of the Lakers first-round pick this season, which was De’Andre Hunter, to the Atlanta Hawks.

On draft night, the team used the Hawks’ first-round pick to draft Jaxson Hayes. The team also traded for the rights of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and the draft rights of Marcos Louzada Silva.

When free agency hit, the front office led by David Griffin continued to stay busy. They acquired Derrick Favors from the Utah Jazz in exchange for two draft picks. Following that, they signed veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick.

New Orleans also had a number of their players that were set to be restricted free agents. They ended up renouncing the rights of Julius Randle, Jordan Crawford, Elfrid Payton, Stanley Johnson, Trevon Bluiett, Ian Clark and Cheick Diallo.

Pelicans 2019 Season Expectations

Expectations for New Orleans this season are interesting. As mentioned, they turned over their roster plenty this offseason, but they did add some talented players.

A number of the players the team got from the Lakers are players that were high draft picks. Given that a number of those players were high draft picks has people thinking they could be guys who are building blocks during this rebuild.

Overall though, Williamson is the main player to watch this season. Most don’t expect the Pelicans to make the postseason in a loaded Western Conference, but they will be a fun team to watch.

Fans of New Orleans shouldn’t expect the Pelicans to be one of the worst teams in the league this season, which is what people should’ve expected after the team traded Davis.

New Orleans will also be a fun team to watch this season for people who like to watch a lot of different games on NBA League Pass.

Prediction

The Pelicans will be right at expectations. They won’t be a playoff team, but they will finish between 9th-11th in the Western Conference. With such a young team and them being led by a rookie, there will be some down moments in the season.

This will be an exciting team to watch, however. With Zion Williamson leading the charge, the Pelicans will become a hot ticket whenever they are going to an opposing team’s arena. Williamson’s presence will also lead to increased national attention on the Pelicans when it comes to TV games. They will also be featured more on highlight shows and social media.

A key in how many wins they end up with will come down to the ball-handling dynamics. Jrue Holiday is still in New Orleans, but now Lonzo Ball is as well. How much will each player handle the ball? How much will Zion Williamson handle the ball?

The answers to those questions will have a huge impact on how many games New Orleans wins. Make no mistake about it though, Alvin Gentry will build this offense around Williamson.

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