5 Reasons To Watch The 2013-14 New Orleans Pelicans

With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.

Next up, a Pelicans team that’s banking on Anthony Davis leading them to the playoffs.

[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]

With a brand new season, we get a brand new team: the New Orleans Pelicans. No longer will the basketball scene in NOLA be described as “buzzing” (for better or worse, depending on your appreciation of wordplay) and gone are the Mardi Gras reminiscent teal, purple and yellow team colors.

The mascot and color scheme aren’t the only new things in Louisiana this season. Dell Demps and Co. we’re very active this offseason. They made the biggest trade of the 2013 NBA Draft, swapping the pick that would end up being Nerlens Noel and their first round pick in next year’s draft for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Then, with their cap money they brought in free agent guard/forward Tyreke Evans.

In a matter of two moves, the Pelicans went from perennial lottery team to playoff threat. However, with a roster full of young talent the Pelicans have their work cut out for them if they want to take that next step.

While a potential emergence as a new playoff team will be a captivating storyline during the season, let’s look at five reasons every game is worth watching.

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Will Austin Rivers get it?
Heading into his freshmen year at Duke, Austin Rivers was considered by many to be a top three recruit in the 2009 class. Yet his lone year as a Blue Devil had both its highs and lows, and by the time the draft rolled around many people’s opinion about him had already spoiled. His rookie year in the Association didn’t do much to quell the naysayers, and for all his supposed offensive talent, he was a liability defensively and often a black hole on offense. However, an impressive showing during the Las Vegas Summer League — 18.2 PPG on 48.6 percent shooting — gives hope that there might be light at the end of the tunnel for Rivers. Not too bright of a light though as he will have to compete with the likes of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans for minutes.

Will Jrue Holiday cost them a Top 5 pick?
The addition of Jrue Holiday will make teams respect the Pelicans more, but at what cost? The 2014 NBA Draft has the potential to be LOADED if all the prospects expected to enter, put their names in. Though the Pelicans have a better roster than last year’s 27-55 team, good for the fifth worst record in the league, if they fail to secure a playoff spot they will have given away a (top 5 protected) lottery pick in the best draft in 11 years. Given Holiday is a proven commodity already, last year’s All-Star selection took care of that, and even though the hype for the 2014 Rookie class is through the roof, a number of the top prospects have yet to play a collegiate game. If the Pelicans don’t significantly improve this year, Jrue Holiday will become the biggest fall guy in New Orleans since Michael D. Brown.

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Just how good can Anthony Davis be? /strong>
Anthony Davis has all the talent in the world. He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot (he has developed a very useful 15-18 foot jumper over the summer), he can play defense and has shown he could defend at the most elite level. Best part is that he’s 6-11. The story of Davis’ rise from no name to elite recruit is as well known as his growth spurt from 6-3 to 6-11 in less than a year. During his lone college season in Kentucky, Davis served as the anchor to a national championship team. While everyone knew he was Big Blue Nation’s best player that year, he somehow was fourth on the team in field goal attempts. His impact was felt in multiple areas of the court and it’s what makes him such an intriguing player. His wiry frame will never allow him to be a bruiser in the paint, but he could become KG 2.0. If Davis can continue on a line of progression similar to Garnett, it’s scary to think what the end product will be.

Tyreke Evans vs. Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon was supposed to be the next big thing in terms of elite shooting guards in the NBA. His first two seasons helped prove that point as Gordon posted a scoring average of 16.4 PPG. Then the injuries came. First there was a strained groin, then a bruised shoulder, followed by a right wrist bone fracture and finishing off with last season’s right knee injury. Gordon’s skill set mesh perfectly next to Holiday and Davis, yet if he can’t get healthy enough to stay on the court he’ll lose his spot. Enter Tyreke Evans, the 2010 rookie of the year, the fourth rookie ever to average 20 PPG 5 RPG and 5 APG in his first year. Evans too has been hobbled by injuries the past few seasons and the switch from point guard to small forward he went through in Sacramento didn’t do his career much good, either. Now with a fresh start in a new place Evans is looking to show that he’s the 20-5-5 guy and not the suit and tie one the Kings saw far too often. The problem for Monty Williams will be finding time for both of these players, as they easily deserve 25-plus minutes each game. Will one outplay the other? Will one get hurt? Will both get hurt? Will they play together? The questions are endless and tuning into their games is the only way to find out the answers.

Small Ball, Small Ball, Small Ball

Small ball has produced some of the most entertaining and fascinating basketball in the NBA since Don Nelson unleashed it during his time as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. The Pelicans five best players are: Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson. That’s a perimeter based big, a point guard, a perimeter oriented guard, a point guard and a stretch four. Put that all together and what do you get? SMALL BALL! A lineup of Davis-Anderson-Evans-Gordon-Holiday would be an offensive juggernaut (and anywhere from mediocre to atrocious defensively). That would make for some fun up-and-down basketball if you ask me, and precisely the type of thing makes them a must-watch on NBA League Pass.

What do you think?

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