Great Expectations

Pelicans, Anthony Davis rising in NBA ranks

As the NBA prepares to kick-off its 2015-16 season, the New Orleans Pelicans, their All Star power forward Anthony Davis and new head coach Alvin Gentry are fast garnering the league’s attention and respect.

This week, NBA.com released its 10th annual GM Survey, in which each NBA general manager responded to 49 questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. To avoid conflict of interest, GMs were not allowed to vote for their own team or personnel.

When asked if they where starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be, Davis was the overwhelming winner with 86.2 percent of the vote. More than 82 percent think he’s the best power forward in the game and he tied for third best center in the league. A quarter of the NBA’s top deal makers predict he’ll be the league’s Most Valuable Player, second only to LeBron James, who received nearly 40 percent of the vote.

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With more than 32 percent of the vote, the league’s GMs think Gentry will make the biggest impact this season among new or relocated head coaches. They feel his addition will make the Pelicans the third most improved team this season, behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks.

There is a reason for the league’s GMs to think so highly of the Pelicans. While the team had to meet the new coaching staff and learn their system, the Pels’ top 11 scorers from last season returned this year. That continuity means the team has on-court familiarity and knows each other’s tendencies. It also means they have tested depth at positions up and down the roster.

The Pelicans ended last season with a 45-37 record, good enough for fifth place in the Southwest Division and eighth in the Western Conference, earning them a playoff appearance. They were swept in the first round by the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors, where Gentry was the lead assistant.

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ESPN currently has the Pelicans ranked as the seventh best team in the conference. They’ll tip off the new season against the Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m., and square off against Golden State in the first home game of the season Halloween night at 6:30 p.m.

 

Sample Survey

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The 10th annual NBA.com GM Survey was released this week. Each team’s general manager responded to 49 questions about the league, including its best teams, players, and coaches. The results show New Orleans Pelicans’ All-Star power forward Anthony Davis and new head coach Alvin Gentry are well regarded around the NBA. Here are a few of the questions on which the Pelicans did best.

 

If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans — 86.2%

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — 6.9%; 
LeBron James, Cleveland — 6.9%

Last year: LeBron James — 50.0%

 

Who will win the 2015-16 MVP?

1. LeBron James, Cleveland — 39.3%

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans — 25.0%

3. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — 10.7%; James Harden, Houston — 10.7% 


5. Stephen Curry, Golden State — 7.1%; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City — 7.1%

Last year: LeBron James — 67.9%

 

Who is the best power forward in the NBA?

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans — 82.1%

2. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers — 7.1%; 
LeBron James, Cleveland — 7.1%

4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio — 3.6% 


Last year: LaMarcus Aldridge & Blake Griffin — 25.0%

 

Who is the best center in the NBA?

1. Marc Gasol, Memphis — 65.5%

2. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento — 13.8%

3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans — 6.9%; Tim Duncan, San Antonio — 6.9%; 
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers — 6.9%

Last year: Dwight Howard — 42.9%

 

Which team will be most improved in 2015-16?

1. Oklahoma City — 25.0%

2. Milwaukee — 17.9%

3. New Orleans — 14.3%

4. Miami — 10.7%

5. Indiana — 7.1%

 

Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?

1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio — 27.6%

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans — 17.2%

3. LeBron James, Cleveland — 13.8%

4. Tony Allen, Memphis — 10.3%

5. Draymond Green, Golden State — 6.9%

Last year: Joakim Noah — 35.7%

 

Who is the best interior defender in the NBA?

1. Marc Gasol, Memphis — 27.6%

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans — 17.2%; 
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers — 17.2%

4. Rudy Gobert, Utah — 10.3%

5. Dwight Howard, Houston — 6.9%

Last year: Joakim Noah — 39.3%

 

Which new (or relocated) coach will make the biggest impact this season?

1. Alvin Gentry, New Orleans — 32.1%

2. Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City — 28.6%

3. Fred Hoiberg, Chicago — 17.9%

4. Scott Skiles, Orlando — 10.7%

5. George Karl, Sacramento — 7.1%

6. Mike Malone, Denver — 3.6%

 

 

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