Whether or not you believe the New Orleans Pelicans' offseason moves are conducive to long-term winning, there's no denying this team is going to be fun to watch this upcoming season.
The Pelicans are young, talented and will usher in a new era of New Orleans hoops.
And on Tuesday night, the NBA fed our excitement by releasing its full schedule for the 2013-14 season. The Pelicans have some fantastic games on the horizon, and we're going to break down the best of the best.
For New Orleans, this isn't a typical season opener.
Oct. 30 marks the team's debut of the Pelicans name, new uniforms and new court design. Also, 2013 All-Star Jrue Holiday and 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans will make their New Orleans debuts. The atmosphere will be fantastic based on those circumstances alone.
But making the game all the more exciting, the Pelicans face a tough opponent. The Indiana Pacers are fresh off a 2012 Eastern Conference Finals appearance and an offseason in which they improved. This is a great test for a young New Orleans team with a lot to prove.
While the Pacers are undoubtedly a better team than the Pelicans, NOLA has a strong shot to earn a victory here. With all the excitement building around them, the Pelicans will come out with an abundance of energy and be backed by an outstanding crowd.
It's always fun to watch a great player face off against a former team of his for the first time. That's what we will have on Nov. 16.
Holiday is only 23 years old, but accomplished plenty for the Philadelphia 76ers. He proved himself as a top point guard last season, with averages of 17.7 points, eight assists and 4.2 rebounds.
When a guy produces at that level and is then traded that offseason, it has to sting. While he might not admit it, Holiday will enter this game with a chip on his shoulder.
The good news for Holiday? The Sixers are going to be terrible this season, so expect Holiday to perform at a high level and lead the Pelicans to a victory, reminding Philly just how good of a player they lost.
The new-look Pelicans get their first crack at the new-look Rockets in December.
This is one of those games in which New Orleans will get to measure just how good they are, against a division foe no less.
The Rockets are primed to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference this season, so facing them on the road will be a real challenge for NOLA.
Houston is a team that likes to run and can put a lot of points on the board. The Pelicans scorers, Holiday, Evans and Eric Gordon, are going to have to play well for New Orleans to keep up.
As for the Pelicans other top player, Anthony Davis, he's going to have his work cut out for him containing Dwight Howard. But a great way for Davis to get better is to compete with guys of Howard's caliber, even if they get the better of him on most occasions.
While the Pelicans are probably going to lose this game, it's one that will be beneficial for the franchise in the long-term. It will give New Orleans more experience against top competition and expose what areas of the game they need to improve in to be a contender for a division crown in the future.
While a nationally televised game might not mean much to a team like the Los Angeles Lakers, who will play 29 of them in 2013-14, it's a pretty cool thing for a team like New Orleans to be showcased on a national stage.
The Pelicans' January meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves will be shown on ESPN, NOLA's first nationally televised game of the season.
It should be a entertaining game, too. The Timberwolves may have won just 31 games in 2012-13, but their struggles mainly had to do with injuries. If they can stay healthy, Minny could very easily earn a playoff berth this season.
The Wolves should come away with the victory in this game. Besides Davis, the Pelicans lack strong interior defenders, which will be a problem for them when they face Kevin Love and (likely) Nikola Pekovic.
However, this will probably me the first time many people will watch the Pelicans, which makes it an important game regardless of outcome.
This January matchup against the San Antonio Spurs has a similar feeling to the December matchup against the Rockets in the way that the game can be used as a measuring stick and a learning experience for the up-and-coming Pelicans.
What better test for Holiday than to go head-to-head with Tony Parker? And what better test for Davis than to face off with Tim Duncan, a top-10 player in NBA history?
The Pelicans are going to have to play a near-perfect game to get a victory against the Spurs. San Antonio is too sound of an offensive and defensive team to come up short against an opponent like New Orleans unless it's clicking on all cylinders.
Holiday and Davis would have to play their respective matchups close to a draw, and Gordon and Evans would have to really be feeling it with their shots. That's obviously unlikely, but the Pelicans are at home and have talent, so you can't totally count them out.