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Question of the Week: Pelicans Exceeding Expectations?

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are 6-6 after their first twelve games: How has the team stacked up against your expectations so far?

 

Fernando: a 6-6 start is great considering the schedule they started out with, 8 out of the first 12 on the road and missing 2 starters. They have showed they can win in different ways, and even with this most recent loss the role players looked good. Holiday had his best game of the season and Miller had a great road trip. If this is a sign of things to come for this team, they are in good shape. Rondo will return next week and that can only add to the success they are having lately. While I think they will have a slight learning curve when Rondo gets back, I think they will continue to show improvement throughout the season.

Rory: I’m the perennial optimistic homer, but even I knew the first stretch of the season would be difficult. A tough, road-heavy schedule while the team is missing its floor general? I was hopeful, but more than a little terrified we could be looking at 3-7 or 4-6 through the first 10 games. So I’m pleasantly surprised we are at 6-5 with a three game road win streak. Yes, there have been stretches where the effort wasn’t there. The defense wasn’t there. The floor spacing wasn’t there. And Jrue Holiday has been a disappointment by every metric, which was definitely not my expectation. But this team is learning how to win in less-than-ideal circumstances (a back-to-back on the road is tough no matter the competition). As Nathan pointed out this week, previous Pelicans squads lost those close road games almost every time. Grinding out a win is as much a skill as anything else, and the team developing that skill against lesser teams right now could pay off big down the road against stiffer competition.

Luis: At the start of the season, I had the team at around .500 for the year. 6-6 is a fantastic start considering they haven’t quite figured out the starting spots that had been pegged for Rajon Rondo and Solomon Hill. Even though the team is at .500 for the first time in years, it still sort of feels like the same old Pelicans. The losses have felt like they were close to playing to their talent level and were simply beat by better teams and the wins have felt dragged out against lesser competition. I’d like to have seen a quality win against a good team, but you have to walk before you can run, and I’d rather have the wins then not.

Jason: If we go all the way back to my slightly pessimistic, mostly realistic prediction post from the week before the season started, I said “for a third straight season, I see a pretty discouraging start in New Orleans.” I wasn’t expecting another 1-9 or 1-11 start like in previous years, but I didn’t think it’d be pretty. And it hasn’t been pretty. But the team is sitting at .500, which I certainly expected them to be well under! Darius Miller has surpassed my expectations. I definitely didn’t expect the team to have the ultra-calm Jameer Nelson at the beginning of the season. I didn’t expect Davis and Cousins to literally never have an off night (not counting the Raptors game).. And Rajon Rondo comes back in a week! I expected Rondo to have to basically be the team’s savior, but it looks more like he’s just going to add to what is already at least a playoff contender.

Raby: Don’t compete with me for most pessimistic Pelicans fan, guys, you’ll lose. I didn’t exactly expect 1-9 for a third year in a row, but my outlook wasn’t exactly rosy with two starters injured and three tough Western Conference playoff teams in the first four games. That being said, the Pelicans have largely beaten every team they were expected to beat (with the exception of the Cavs who must have Freaky Friday’d with the Magic), and they’ve lost to the teams I expected them to lose to (with the exception of the Magic who must have Freaky Friday’d with the Cavs). I’ve been impressed with the Big Birds most of all, because although I expected both of them to play well, I definitely didn’t expect both of them to be unstoppable Godzilla monsters who open their mouths and inhale defenders like Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner whole, and that’s pretty much what’s happening.

Jermaine: So this is an especially satisfying question for me. At the time of writing, the Pelicans are 6-5, which is literally within 1% of the winning percentage I anticipated for the season (read: I told you so). So…I guess they’re playing exactly as I’d expected. Because they’ve arrived there so early – even with challenges from injuries – there’s a possibility the Pelicans could over perform and pick up 3-4 extra wins if/when they get hot. That could be the difference between making the playoffs or watching from home in the currently murky Western Conference. Knowing that Rondo and some key bench guys will be back is lagniappe right now.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jake J. Madison is the host of the daily Locked on Pelicans podcast. Covering the Pelicans and NBA since 2010, you can catch him on various sports programs around New Orleans and nationally.

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