In the ole Cavs tradition, the Pelicans are finally starting to look like the squad their paper selves indicate. As our Week 7 NBA Power Rankings lamented, they’d surely be a team if playing for the Leastern Conference. But that was at the beginning of the week, and, by golly, they’re now a legitimate playoff squadron having won two in a row for eighth place out West.
For the sake of stating the obvious, they’ve done it all in large part because of a certain someone named Anthony Davis. In their latest victory, AD dropped 30 and 14 against division rival the Houston Rockets. That’s a team that’s won 76 percent of its matches during a season that’s boasted a historically good conference and that has seen injury after injury. For their last ten, the Pels are 6-4, having beat OKC, the Lakers, the Knicks, the Cavs, the Jazz, and as mentioned, the Rockets. And two of those four losses were hard-fought against the West’s best.
They still can’t play defense to save their collective lives, amounting to a 27th-best 107.8 Deffensive Efficiency but they’re breathing on the necks of the West’s elite (which seems to be just about everyone right now) while going through the eighth-hardest Strength of Schedule out there. As the Western Conference would have it, one little slip and either OKC or Phoenix put themselves into the playoff mix. But, for now, certain numbers indicate that the Pelicans must still be counted for.
First, they have an MVP candidate in their ranks. Two: where their Defensive Efficiency stinks, their Offensive Efficiency is to dream for, ranked just above that of Golden State as the NBA’s No. 4 offense. Three: certain advanced rankings have them budging little, if at all, from their place as the league’s 14th-best team. Plus/Minus has them at 14th, just below Oklahoma and just above Phoenix. And the latest Hollinger Power Rankings list them at also 14 with a Rating of 101.396.
Granted, anything can happen, as the latest Kevin Durant ankle sprain shows. Which might be more reason to not count this New Orleans out from contention. As their superstar goes, so do they, which makes them a work in progress. But one that is still better than a horde of NBA teams out there getting far more fanfare. This Pelicans group should still be reckoned with as long as they have the league’s best player in their ranks.