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Beyond The Mic: Top 5 Reasons To Watch New Orleans Pelicans

The era of the New Orleans Pelicans officially tips-off tonight with its first regular season game. Before they host the Indiana Pacers, let’s examine why this team is excited to watch. The youthful and talented Pelicans will give you plenty of reasons to watch, but here are the top 5 reasons.

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 5. Players are easy to root for

If you’re looking for a basketball team NOT to represent your community, look at the Portland Trail Blazers from the early to mid 2000s. Aptly nicknamed the Jail Blazers, their roster included the likes of Ruben Patterson (allegedly attempted to rape his kid’s nanny, registered sex offender, charged with domestic abuse), Qyntel Woods (arrested for dog fighting), Damon Stoudemire (serious drug issues), Bonzi Wells (who was quoted as saying the fans didn’t matter at all to the team), Zach Randolph (long before Z-Bo was ballin’ in Memphis he was punching out Patterson’s eye socket, driving under the influence, and being investigated for his ties to drug rings), Shawn Kemp (no need for an explanation), and a cast of other criminals (read more about Jail Blazers here).

While the Jail Trail Blazers of the early 2000s are an extreme, the 2013-14 New Orleans Pelicans are exactly the cast of players a fan would want to represent their team. Budding superstar Anthony Davis is as unselfish a player as their is in the league. Jrue Holiday’s affluent charisma with fans and media is just as affluent off the floor and away from cameras. Tyreke Evans made a charitable difference during his time in Sacramento by working with the youth. He has already begun plans to do the same in New Orleans. Ryan Anderson suffered a heartbreaking tragedy in the offseason. Yet, by openly leaning on his faith in God after his girlfriend’s suicide, is beginning a foundation with her family that focuses on aiding those who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. (Anderson also gives the best interview in the league, as evidenced by this one from last April).

As a team, the Pelicans list of charitable actions is nearly as long as the Jail Blazers wrap sheet was.

Sports fans want to believe the players on their favorite team are individuals who care about the fanbase and the community. With the Pelicans, it’s not a facade, it’s a reality.

4. Fly Pelicans fly! An Up-Tempo Style Of Basketball

When the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, they brought with them a playoff team. However, the playoff teams employed slow, half-court offenses. Is there anything wrong with this? Not if you’re winning. Just like when the Chris Paul teams of 2005-2011 were notoriously slow-paced and half-court oriented, if they were winning, fans wouldn’t complain about the style. However, if all things are equal, an up-tempo style of basketball is more pleasing to the eye. A slow paced brand of ball, coupled with the last two losing seasons, the Hornets weren’t a must-see on NBA League Pass. This season, the Pelicans will be.

Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Adding Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans’ ball-handling skills, coupled with Al-Farouq Aminu and Anthony Davis’ speed, along with Eric Gordon’s attacking style, Jason Smith’s energy, and Ryan Anderson and Anthony Morrow’s 3-point stretch abilities, and this offense should be a blast to watch. More possessions equals more highlights. More highlights equals more fun.

3. New Additions of Holiday & Evans

New Orleans surprised many when traded away Nerlens Noel and a 2014 top-5 protected first round pick for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Once the surprise wore off, many Pelican fans starting learning more about Holidays’ game, including his on-ball defending skills. One of the biggest issues with the Hornets defense last year was on-ball backcourt defense. Time after time, opposing point guards drove into the lane at will. Once this occurs, the interior of New Orleans’ defense crumbles, leaving players wide open for outside shots. The opposition shot 41% on the Hornets last season. In addition to his defensive skills, Holiday’s team-first mentality makes him the perfect fit at point guard for an offense that has supremely talented offensive players.

Check out Holiday’s on-ball defense of Kyrie Irving.

Tyreke Evans is a basketball chameleon. After winning rookie of the year with the Sacramento Kings while playing point guard, Evans spent the next three seasons between three positions (PG, SG, SF). Despite a tumultuous ownership situation in Sacramento, as well as playing for two different coaches and alongside a plethora of guards, Evans never complained, playing wherever he was asked to. Perhaps this made it easy when Pelicans coach Monty Williams asked him about coming off the bench. While he’ll get major minutes, the idea of not starting didn’t phase Evans one bit. His chemistry with fellow guard Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon have him excited about a fresh start in the Crescent City, as all 3 players played together on the AAU circuit during their high school days. As Evans told hoopsworld.com, he loves playing with his old friends.

“Ah man, it’s amazing,” Evans said of playing alongside Holiday and Gordon. “The way we have that three-guard lineup, three guards that can run, push the ball out in the open floor, I think it’s going to be tough for teams to stop us. [In the preseason], we’ve got it going a little bit, pushing the ball down the floor to get easy buckets in transition. That kind of makes it easier on everybody, when we all get out in open space.”
2. Say You Were There From The Start
While the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Championship (“ANYTHING IS POSSIBBBBBLLLLEEEEE!!!!!!) after acquiring two superstars in a lopsided trade, Kevin Garnett’s famous scream after winning the title will be mocked and celebrated til’ the end of the time. However, for most NBA franchises, it’s not possible to go from awful, to NBA champs. It takes time, effort, a little luck, chemistry, coaching, and talent, just to name a few winning ingredients. It has to be BUILT.
Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
“Rome wasn’t build in a day.”
New Orleans is building with a young core. The youngest team in the NBA is loaded with talented players who have yet to reach their full potential. Davis (20), Austin Rivers (21), Al-Farouq Aminu (23), Holiday (23), Evans (24), Gordon (24), and Anderson (25) form a young core of players who has all bought in to the future of the Pelicans. While a few of the players may be replaced during the build, all will prove to be vital parts of building “Rome.”

 

Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

1. Anthony Davis

The #1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft is the face and the future of the Pelicans franchise. At the young age of 20, he’s wise well beyond his years. While winning a national championship and countless NCAA player of the year awards in his one season at Kentucky, Davis showed something you don’t see often in teenage basketball prodigies…he showed an altruistic concern for his team. Could Davis have scored 20+ a game while with the Wildcats? Yep. Could he have demanded the ball in the Final Four? Yep. Did he? Nope.
I realize he led the team in scoring that season, but the point isn’t about what he did throughout the year, it’s what he did on any given night.
He bought in to the team concept. Davis shined on all ends of the floor in college, but he also shined in what he didn’t do. Many games, he knew it would improve his club’s chances of winning if he set-up Doron Lamb or Marquis Teague on the offensive end of the floor. Davis’ unselfishness is part of the reason scouts around the NBA are so high on him. No one doubts Davis’ physical attributes. His ability to reach them isn’t in jeopardy either, because of the attribute between his ears. Davis had already learned something at 18 years old that Dwight Howard still hasn’t learned, and may never will.
Aside from his team-first menatliy, Anthony is obviously a blast to watch on the floor. (View his top 10 plays from his rookie season here) With a 7’5 wingspan and the ball-handling ability of a guard, Davis only needs to add more muscle to his lean frame. In the offseason, he did,adding nearly 20 pounds of muscle. He now tips the scales at 223 pounds. His basketball IQ is exceptionally high, while leadership abilities are apparent after he showed up as a player “assistant coach” during the team’s Vegas Summer league games.
Davis is due for an All-Star breakout season in year number two. What makes it more exciting? It’s only the beginning.
Jump on the Pelicans train now everybody. The present is bright, but the future is even brighter.

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