New Orleans made some additions to their roster over the offseason, and they're hoping it will lead to much more success in Gentry's second season.
Things didn’t quite go as expected in Alvin Gentry’s first year as head coach in New Orleans.
After Monty Williams was fired, Gentry took the reins as one of the hottest available coaches in the league following his tremendous stint with the Warriors. As an assistant on Steve Kerr’s staff, Golden State surged to an NBA title victory in 2014-15.
Under Williams, many fans were frustrated with the glass ceiling that had developed for the Pelicans. With such a talented young roster, many were clamoring to see the team finally get over the hump and become a serious contender.
With Gentry’s championship pedigree, there was plenty of excitement heading into 2015-16, but the Pelicans could never get off the blocks.
New Orleans began the season in a 1-11 hole that they could never dig themselves out of, despite playing better midway through the year.
The Pelicans finished just 30-52 overall and missed the playoffs.
New Orleans made some additions to their roster over the offseason, and they’re hoping it will lead to much more success in Gentry’s second season.
Above all, any strides or steps back will begin and end with the Pelicans’ franchise player, Anthony Davis.
When he’s been on the floor, he’s been great for New Orleans. Unfortunately, consistent injuries have hindered Davis throughout his career.
Though Davis had his second-most productive season in 2015-16 with 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, it was his worst year when it came to injuries.
He was only able to play in 61 of the Pelicans’ 82 games. In his four seasons in New Orleans, Davis has never been healthy enough to play in more than 68 games.
Gentry is hoping Davis can go through 2016-17 unscathed, but things are not off to a promising start. He will head into the season nursing an injured ankle he sustained during the preseason.
Along with Davis, some familiar faces will return for New Orleans.
They’ll bring back Tyreke Evans. Like Davis, he was stung by the injury bug last year. He was only able to play in 25 games. During that time, he averaged 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists per contest.
Jrue Holiday returns at point guard. Holiday averaged 17 points and six assists per game last year, but like Davis and Evans, he was sidelined with injuries. He missed 17 games.
During the offseason, the Pelicans made three additions that they’re hoping will get them back to the playoffs.
First, they drafted Oklahoma’s hot-shooting senior Buddy Hield. Hield earned multiple Player of the Year awards last season as he helped lead the Sooners to the Final Four.
During the preseason, Hield averaged 13 points per game.
“He’s tried to lean everything that we’ve thrown at him. He’s still a very confident shooter. He’s still a confident guy,” Gentry said of Hield. “He’s going to have some games where he struggles. But for the most part, I feel like he’s going to develop into a very good basketball player.”
New Orleans later acquired veterans Lance Stephenson and Terrence Jones.
Stephenson made a name for himself in 2014 when he helped lead the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. In addition to his hard-nosed defense and bizarre in-game antics, he averaged 14 points a game that season.
However, he struggled when he signed with the Hornets, seeing his point total drop to just 8 per contest.
When the next season rolled around, he was shipped to the Clippers, where his average dropped to just 5.
Though, when he was moved to Memphis midway through the season, he returned back to 2014 form, averaging 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in 26 games.
Jones is another player known for his defense and rebounding.
He had his best year in 2013, when he averaged 12 points per game. Though his point total dropped to 9 last season, his block total has been at least 1.7 per contest for the past three years.
New Orleans will once again have their hands full in the loaded Western Conference.
In the Southwest Division alone, they’ll have to deal with the likes of the Spurs, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Rockets—all of which made the playoffs last season.
New Orleans finished the preseason just 1-5.