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2015-16 NBA Preview: The Pelicans Are On The Edge Of Greatness

We’re inaugurating our NBA player projection system, CARMELO, with 2015-16 season previews for every team in the league. Check out the teams we’ve already previewed here. Learn more about CARMELO here.


Anthony Davis has arrived. Do the New Orleans Pelicans have enough to ascend with him? The Brow became a bona fide superstar last season, finishing with the league’s best player efficiency rating (PER) and earning beaucoup stat-geek street cred along the way. At age 22, he still has plenty of room for growth — like, literally — but the worry is that the talented but troubled 20-somethings around him won’t be enough to crack the playoff field in a deep Western Conference. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projection system expects the team to go 46-36.

carmelo_depth_chart_pelicans

Good health would help. Key contributors Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday each missed more than 20 games last season, and Davis himself has yet to hit 70 games played in a season. But the Pellies are mostly counting on the arrival of new coach Alvin Gentry to take them to the next level. The Mike D’Antoni disciple will surely rev up the offense, and thus the fun, but shoring up the 22nd-ranked defense is probably a bigger priority.

What does CARMELO think?

anthony-davis

Anthony Davis was the only player to finish in the top 15 last season in both offensive and defensive Real Plus-Minus. In other words, he was the best two-way player in the NBA at 21 years old. And now he’s shooting threes. It’s all pretty terrifying. CARMELO isn’t really going out on a limb in labeling Davis an MVP candidate.


omer-asik

Omer Asik averaged 2 points per game in the playoffs against the champs. Now Gentry, a former Warriors assistant, must find a way to justify the defensive center’s new $60 million contract.


tyreke-evans

Little defense, less range, but Tyreke Evans is still a whirling dervish who creates opportunities when attacking the rim.


eric-gordon

Once the carrot in the Chris Paul trade, Eric Gordon is now the shruggie emoticon personified (CARMELO puts Gordon in the “dubious starter” bucket). Can he stay healthy and keep knocking down threes in a contract year? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


jrue-holiday

His PER has climbed in five of six seasons, and CARMELO expects Jrue Holiday to have a solid, “borderline All-Star” 2015-16 season. But right leg injuries limited Holiday to 11 games post-New Year’s last season, and he’ll be on a 15-minute restriction to start this season. Can his wife pass with her hands, too?


kendrick-perkins

Kendrick Perkins: Clear front-runner for Keep Gettin’ Dem Checks MVP.


quincy-pondexter

Quincy Pondexter must shoot the 3-ball like he did in New Orleans last season (44.3 percent) and not like he did in Memphis last season (23.3 percent).

Justin Verrier covers the New Orleans Pelicans for ESPN.

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