Crescent City Pelicans revamp, reboot for another successful season

Following yet another drama-filled summer, the NBA season is revving up once again, with the New Orleans Pelicans making their debut last Wednesday in a 131-112 blowout win over the Houston Rockets. The Pels are currently undefeated after battering the Sacramento Kings 149-129 on Friday, a victory which broke the team’s previous franchise record for points in a game.

These first two wins certainly demonstrated utter dominance from the Pelicans, but how did the team get here?

For Pelicans fans, the 2018 postseason evoked a wide range of emotions. New Orleans managed to secure the sixth seed in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, being just one of three teams with a 48-34 record. The Pels proceeded to sweep the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers 4-0 in the first round, before ultimately losing 4-1 in the semifinals to the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.

The offseason was an entirely different animal for New Orleans. In what was perhaps the most controversial free-agency decision of the summer, a bold statement, considering LABron, the Pelicans’ all-star starting center DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors for a laughable $5.3 million contract. Fortunately, the rest of the summer fared a bit better for the Pelicans. In July, the team acquired two promising young players in former Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle as well as Phoenix Suns and former University of Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton.

So far, the Pelicans have surely lived up to last season’s hype. Anthony “The Brow” Davis is averaging 30.3 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, while center Nikola Mirotic is averaging 28.0 points per game along with 10.3 rebounds. Jrue Holiday continues to be an incredible playmaker, averaging nine assists.

Looking ahead, what can we look forward to from the Pelicans this season?

  1. More dominance?

According to ESPN’s strength of schedule rankings for the 2018-19 season, the Pelicans are roughly middle of the pack, which implies a much easier season than the last, in which New Orleans was ranked sixth. Hopefully this means that the team will be able to notch a higher seed than last year and maintain its offensive prowess.

  1. A spooky Halloween showdown between Davis and Cousins

Although Davis did not seem particularly bitter after the departure of his former teammate DeMarcus Cousins, he did call the all-star center “the enemy,” so NBA fans thirsty for drama can look forward to the Warriors’ and Pelicans’ first duel of the season, which will take place on Oct. 31 in Oakland.

  1. How Randle and a new-look Payton will fit in with the team

Randle has already proven to be a solid addition for the Pelicans and is currently averaging 19 points and nine rebounds in only 23 minutes off the bench. Payton, who cut his iconic hair and perhaps can actually see the basketball now, had an excellent debut game against Houston, notching a minimalist triple-double with a 10-10-10 statline. Only time will tell if these two young acquisitions will continue to come up big for the Pelicans.

  1. Davis potentially winning MVP

Anthony Davis seems only to be getting better every year. With the Pelicans having a chance at earning a higher seed this year, the Warriors splitting votes between their ever-multiplying all-star starters and LeBron James going to the Lakers, Davis may be in the perfect position to snag this elusive award.

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