The New Orleans Pelicans will look to make a surprise run to the NBA Playoffs this season. There are historical examples that help make these expectations reasonable.
The New Orleans Pelicans have a deep team and reasonable playoff aspirations. Last season, Alvin Gentry stuck to an eight-man rotation, even in an Opening Night blowout. Gentry will have to show trust in the team’s depth to really get value from the back end of the roster.
The Pelicans top six players can run with most of the other top teams. Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball already are getting tagged as the best defensive backcourt in the league. Derrick Favors could easily be a top ten center, now that he is getting starters minutes.
JJ Redick showed faith in the team when he could have easily found other suiters. Brandon Ingram has All-NBA potential and is in his best situation yet. It is also a contract year. The New Orleans Pelicans’ sixth-best talent at the moment might not even Zion Williamson, but hey, Lets Dance.
The reserve unit has to pick up the slack when the team is overpowered by star power. Houston and both Los Angeles teams have All-World talents that cannot be easily matched. They can be contained though, with the reserve unit overwhelming the lack of depth on those top-heavy teams.
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The 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks went on a 17 game winning streak, won their division, and made the conference finals. Mike Budenholzer won the coach of the year award that season and has not been doubted much since. He has built the same type of squad in Milwaulkee, plus Giannis Antetekoupmo.
The Hawks had 12 players appear in 40 games or more while averaging over 12 minutes per game. Atlanta improved to 60 wins, 22 more than the previous season. The New Orleans Pelicans cannot expect to replicate that winning streak, no team can, but is capable of a dozen more wins this season.
JJ Redick is the new Kyle Korver. Derrick Favors and Zion Williamson have different styles but are just as effective as Al Horford and Paul Millsap. Dennis Schroeder and Jeff Teague ran the backcourt at above-average effectiveness.
Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball are more than capable of being a top 5 guard duo this season. At his best, Brandon Ingram is an upgrade over DeMarre Carroll.
Yes, the Eastern Conference was dominated by Lebron James back then. These Atlanta Hawks were the top seed that year. When the teams met in the conference finals, the Hawks never won a game.