The New Orleans Pelicans have become many people’s dark horse playoff team for the 2019 NBA season but they have to get through some tough competition.
The 2019 season is primed to be very exciting for the New Orleans Pelicans. Fresh after trading Anthony Davis, the Pelicans boast a young and talented roster that has Big Easy fans more excited for basketball than they have been in quite some time.
Well, DeMarcus Cousins coming over was fun, but that never felt like a long-term thing. This Pelicans team is built to be good for a very long time.
This is the first year of their “rebuild” without Davis, although I hate coining that term as they are far too talented to be considered a rebuild. This is a team that has legitimate playoff talent and a team that I think can prove the naysayers wrong and be the eighth seed in the West.
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The way I look at the West, there are seven teams that are a bonafide lock for the playoffs, barring big injuries (which only opens another spot for New Orleans). Those seven teams are both LA teams, the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers and Golden State Warriors.
That leaves a handful of teams that will realistically compete for that eighth seed, one of which is the San Antonio Spurs. And while the Spurs are known for their consistency and greatness, the Pelicans are actually in a better position to be a playoff team.
First and foremost, the best player on the Spurs is getting older and may no longer be an all-star. LaMarcus Aldridge has been an all-star three times in four years with the Spurs, although that may be coming to an end as he is entering his age 34 season.
The San Antonio Spurs also have DeMar DeRozan, although that fit has never really come to fruition. DeRozan has come back down from being an elite-caliber two-guard to being a borderline all-star in San Antonio as his scoring has taken a dip.
DeRozan averaged the fewest points per game since 2013. He was solid but he was not even an all-star.
The Spurs are very good defensively, especially with Derrick White, but they do lack size and depth could be a big problem if only one or two guys go down, especially in the frontcourt.
The Spurs are absolutely going to be the toughest team to beat out for that eighth spot but the New Orleans Pelicans can sneak in if they utilize the matchups against the Spurs. The Pelicans are much younger and are likely going to play a much quicker style of basketball, so the team has to really put their foot on the Spurs’ throat and never let off.
That alone won’t be enough to guarantee a playoff spot but it will be a great start. New Orleans has to hope that Aldrige really does take a step back and DeRozan doesn’t bounce back and become an all-star.
And without an all-star on their roster, the hope is that they struggle against the tough West while the Pelicans use their talent, youth and pace of play to outpace and beat teams.
It is going to be tough but with the New Orleans Pelicans’ distribution of talent as well as the players that the Spurs are banking on, the Pelicans might just have a good shot at the eighth seed.