The New Orleans Pelicans have the potential to become one of the hottest, most popular teams in the NBA. Granted, the pelican isn’t an animal that strikes fear in the hearts of opponents, but Austin Rivers defended the team’s new name to Skip Bayless on ESPN's First Take.
“You gotta roll with it, man. We have a new team, a new name; we’re getting a new arena, a new practice facility and a new start.”
The former Duke standout also pointed out that the pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, so at least there is a connection to the state and the city of New Orleans.
Rivers will be part of a young core on a team that has just two players older than 30 years old and whose average age is 24.7, the second-youngest in the NBA. Although he struggled somewhat last season, scoring just 6.2 points per game on 37.2 percent from the field, Rivers has the potential to blossom into a star. After all, he only played a year at Duke and then was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft as a 20-year-old—he has room to grow.
The future of the Pelicans could possibly be built around Anthony Davis, who was selected first overall in that same draft as Rivers. Davis made a strong case for the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year award, putting up 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, but ultimately fell short to Damien Lillard. The former Kentucky Wildcat shot 51.6 percent from the field as he showcased his versatility at both the forward and center positions.
The Hornets finished last season with a dreadful record of 27-55, but in 2013-14 they will look to improve upon that tremendously under coach Monty Williams. Will they win the NBA Finals? Probably not. But the Pelicans do have the potential to become one of the NBA’s hottest teams.