Considering they lost to the New York Knicks on Monday, and thus allowing the Knicks to snap their 16-game losing streak, the New Orleans Pelicans don’t have the look of a playoff team at the moment.
As the current No.10 seed in the brutal Western Conference, the Pelicans margin for error is really slim. The Pelicans need a healthy Anthony Davis on the court for there to be any chance this team can crash the playoffs come April.
At 20-21, this your definition of a an average NBA team. And that is with Anthony Davis playing. For New Orleans to have ideas of making the playoffs, they have to be in great shape. Literally.
Obviously, it all starts with Davis.
If there has been one thing that has dogged him in his career, it’s Davis’ propensity for getting hurt. Through two years, he has missed a combined 33 games. He has now missed his last three games while currently dealing with a bruised toe.
Simply put, the Pelicans need Davis on the court. He is an absolute game changer, and if things shake out well for him and the team, he could conceivably be your MVP at the end of the year.
If you need reminding, he is having one heck of a season. Through 37 games, Davis is averaging 24.2 points (third in the NBA), 10.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks (first in the NBA), and 1.0 assists per game while shooting .561 percent from the floor.
Davis simply changes the dynamic of the game with his presence on both sides of the ball.
He works inside-out and is a dangerous threat when he has his hands on the ball in the post on offense. On defense, well, he is active as you can get and is one of the better shot blockers in the NBA, if not the best.
Also, hampered by the injury bug at the moment is point guard Jrue Holiday. Holiday has missed the last four games with a bothersome ankle injury. He, too, has had a great beginning to the 2014-15 season. Holiday is averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 assists per game for the season ,which would represent career highs. He is also shooting .444 percent from the field and .367 from three-point range.
Eric Gordon, who is doing well at the moment (averaging 15 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in his last six games), has also battled injuries and missed 21 games earlier in the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Gordon has not been one to stay on the court for long. Over his seven years in the NBA, Gordon has missed a total of 181 games with various maladies.
While Tyreke Evans is having a nice season (16.9 ppg, 5.4 apg and 5.5 rpg) and who himself has had trouble staying healthy (missing 81 games in his first five years in the league), the Pelicans will still only go as far as Davis and Holiday can take them. With the Pelicans going 4-6 in their last 10 games, they can’t afford many slip ups. That’s why health is paramount to any success New Orleans has this year.
In a conference that is looking like they have seven locks for the playoffs(Golden State, Memphis, Portland, L.A. Clippers, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio), the fight for the eight-spot will be intense. The Phoenix Suns lead the pack with a 24-18 record and are three and a half games ahead of the Pelicans. The Oklahoma City Thunder are also a half game ahead of the Pelicans at the moment.
Hopefully Davis and Holiday can come back soon and their injuries don’t linger. This is a team that if they can get healthy and stay healthy, can do some damage.
The Pelicans haven’t been playing with a full deck for a while with the extended absence of Gordon earlier in the year. So, if Davis and Holiday get back soon and Gordon continues to give the team a boost in scoring, this is a team that can be in the mix for a playoff spot.
They can ill afford to have stars like Davis and Holiday sit many games and expect to make the playoffs, though. Not with the competition to make the playoffs as fierce as it is in the west.
On the other hand, it is a delicate line the Pelicans’ franchise has to balance. Davis, in particular, has to be treated with kid gloves, as he has unlimited potential and they’ll want to preserve him the best way they can. His value to the franchise is beyond immeasurable.
Regardless, it should be interesting to see if New Orleans can overcome their current injury issues and make a run to the playoffs. It would be nice to see Davis have the chance to showcase his game and cement his standing as one of the games best players on the biggest platform: the playoffs.