The New Orleans Pelicans front office was able to let out a collective sigh of relief when they inked 22-year old basketball phenomenon Anthony Davis to a 5-year contract extension worth a whopping $145 million.
Davis was undoubtedly due for a max level pay day sooner or late after he averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.9 blocks in 36.1 minutes per game in 2014-2015. The Chicago native also led the league in PER at 30.89 while shooting 53% from the field and above 80% from the charity stripe. If that wasn’t more than enough, there are reports that during the offseason, Davis not only added 12 lbs of muscle for added strength and durability, but he’s also expanded his range to beyond the 3-point line.
However, the question is not whether or not Anthony Davis will be good enough to lead his team back into the Western Conference playoffs. Instead it will be whether or not his supporting cast, marred by serious injuries, has the talent level to match his play. With Jrue Holiday being limited to 15 minutes per game until the New Year, Tyreke Evans to miss the first 6-8 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and Eric Gordon’s history of nagging injuries, the Pelicans are going to need to rely on their depth.
With 17 games on their plate through October/November, the Pelicans will have a tough initial month trying to find their footing. Two of the first three games will come against the Golden State Warriors (October 27th and 31st), the team that swept them in the first round of the playoffs. Their schedule doesn’t get any lighter from there as other key match-ups for the Pelicans will come against rivals such as Oklahoma City Thunder (Nov. 18th) and San Antonio Spurs (Nov. 20th).
One key storyline to follow through this first month of NBA action will be the newly installed offensive system of head coach Alvin Gentry. Responsible for bringing the up-tempo style of play that saw success in Phoenix with Steve Nash, Lob City with Chris Paul and most recently, Golden State with Stephen Curry. Valuing spacing, ball movement and 3-pointers, there are a number of looming questions surrounding the fit with this roster. For one, how will the play of $12 million Omar Asik, whose primary use is to rebound the ball, be affected? The new offensive system may very well spark a resurgence in sharpshooter Ryan Anderson as he looks to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2014-2015 campaign. Underrated acquisitions like Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins give this need some much-needed toughness and veteran presences.
Courtesy of Rant Sports