It’s an inaugural season of sorts down in the Big Easy. Gone is the name “Hornets,” which beat a teal stained path back to the good people (if not the good team) of Charlotte, NC after owner Tom Benson decided to brand his recently purchased team with a certain bird of local import. The 86-year old Benson then pressed GM Dell Demps to move the team’s rebuilding effort demonstrably forward and whether you call them the Pellies, the ‘Cans or take the time necessary to say all three syllables of Pelicans, the NBA’s New Orleans franchise is one of its more intriguing (which is not to say, necessarily, one of its better) going into the 2013-14 season.
Last Season: In its final season as the New Orleans Hornets, the team saw its two main building blocks, rookie Anthony Davis and shooting guard Eric Gordon, miss 18 and 40 games respectively. Davis’s missed games not withstanding, he turned in a promising rookie campaign averaging 13.5 points, better than 8 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks in only 28.8 minutes a game. In terms of PER and adjusted per minute stats, Davis compares favorably to the early seasons of Tim Duncan (who played over 40 minutes a game as a rookie… woah!) and Kevin Garnett (who began playing exclusively at power forward in his third season). So much of New Orleans’s projected future success, depends on Davis taking a step firmly toward that stratosphere, Gordon staying healthy enough to be the B to Davis’s A and Austin Rivers avoiding a second straight historically bad season. A nice, but unspectacular, rotation of Greivis Vasquez, Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez rounded out the team to make them 27-55 and, staring at a dearth of franchise changing talent in the draft, seemed to be (like another team we know…) settling in for a long, patient rebuild.
What they’ve done this off-season: On draft night, the Pelicans hit the accelerator. They hope.