- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
NBA AM: Pelicans Facing Higher Expectations
Posted By Lang Greene On July 17, 2013 @ 10:29 am In NBA | No Comments
The New Orleans Pelicans will enter the 2013-14 campaign with higher expectations than the franchise’s first two seasons after the Chris Paul era ended. The Pelicans will enter next season with a new name, logo and now will also have higher expectations from its fan base to flirt with its first playoff bid since 2011.
Pelicans head coach Monty Williams acknowledged the higher expectations but also believes the team has much larger goals for themselves as a collective outside of what anyone else is thinking.
“We have higher expectations for ourselves than anyone else can have for us,” Williams told HOOPSWORLD at summer league (Las Vegas). “So we don’t pay much attention to that stuff. We’ll evaluate where we are by December and then we’ll understand what kind of team we have but as of right now we’ve got to put it together.”
The Pelicans have had a very big offseason up until this point.
The team pulled off a draft night trade shocker by acquiring All-Star guard Jrue Holiday from the Philadelphia 76ers. The team followed up this move by acquiring former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans in a three-team sign and trade deal with Portland and Sacramento. In additional roster tweaks, the Pelicans were able to re-sign Al-Farouq Aminu and Anthony Morrow to one-y ear deals in free agency.
Williams believes the upgrade in experience and talent on the roster this summer will allow him to concentrate more on coaching this season than having to rely on younger players playing significant roles in the rotation.
“I’m more excited about Anthony Davis’ progress,” Williams said. “And yet we’re adding some really good guards and wings. We have Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, re-signed Al-Farouq Aminu and although those guys are young they’ve been through the league for a couple of years so we can get back to coaching instead of teaching and that’s something we really wanted to do.”
Williams has spent the week in Las Vegas at Summer League watching the development progress of second year players Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts. Both guys are expected to play significant reserve rotation minutes this season.
“I think it’s important every time you get a chance to compete against high level players,” Williams says on the importance of summer league. “Most guys want to go home and just play pick-up [basketball] all summer long, but to be in this atmosphere with NBA referees against NBA talent I think it makes you a better basketball player for the NBA. You can play in a pick-up basketball anywhere in the country but in this atmosphere it shortens the learning curve.”
So far the development of both guys appears to be promising. Through three summer league games, Rivers is averaging 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Roberts is producing 14 points and three assists per contest.
The Washington Wizards haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2008 campaign. During this five season stretch the team hasn’t finished better than 24 games under .500. However, things could be changing for the franchise with the addition of Otto Porter, the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft.
But more importantly, the team will benefit from their backcourt tandem of John Wall and Brad Beal potentially entering training camp at 100 percent. Wall missed 33 games last season nursing a knee injury and Beal missed 26 contests after suffering a stress fracture in his leg.
Beal doesn’t see a reason why his team couldn’t make a playoff push in 2014, but also realizes that health will play a significant role if a postseason bid is secured next season.
“Our number one key for both of us is to stay healthy,” Beal told HOOPSWORLD about the need for him and Wall to be in the lineup on most night. “I think with me and John healthy we’re going to be a good team. We showed shades of that last year in that we could compete and beat anybody. So it’s really up to us, it’s all in our hands. We just have to go out there and execute.”
Outside of the draft, the Wizards have been relatively quiet this summer. The club re-signed forward Martell Webster to a four-year $22 million deal and also signed reserve guard Eric Maynor to a two-year deal as added depth behind Beal and Wall in the lineup.
Beal says even though the club has been quiet relative to others on the free agency and trade fronts, he loves the direction the franchise is taking and is enthusiastic for the future.
“There’s a lot of move and trades going on,” Beal said of the league wide activity this summer. “Guys are on different teams so it’s going to be different, but I love our team. We barely made any moves but we have a solid core and we’re going to move on from there.”
The Wizards finished 29-53 last season but was heavily hit by injuries as only three players logged more than 70 games in 2013.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-am-pelicans-facing-higher-expectations
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.