Are Pelicans worse at staying healthy than Hornets?
You'll have to ask a veterinarian about that, but it seems as though the New Orleans Pelicans are already getting off to a rough start on the injury front now that Ryan Anderson is out for at least a week.
According to an official press release from the team's site, the sharp-shooting stretch 4 has suffered a chip fracture in a toe on his right foot, and the injury is going to do more than cause him to feel uncomfortable during practice. It will keep him out anywhere from one to three weeks.
Unfortunately for fans in the bayou, this already puts a damper on the 2013-14 campaign, as it could cause the team to get off to a slow start. The Pelicans are flying toward a playoff spot in the brutally difficult Western Conference, and there are quite a few teams gunning for the No. 8 seed.
We could see the Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers or Los Angeles Lakers take home the final playoff berth, so every game matters. Cliche as that is, it's especially true in a race this tight.
Anderson was going to be a crucial piece in NOLA's puzzle throughout the season, stretching the floor with his marksmanship from beyond the three-point arc while the three-headed guard monster and Anthony Davis attacked the basket.
But without him, Davis becomes the primary—and only—power forward, leaving Greg Stiemsma, Jason Smith and Jeff Withey to take up all of the minutes at center. Given the inherent shooting limitations of that big-man trio, there won't be as much floor spacing.
So, let's say that Anderson does miss the full three weeks in a worst-case scenario (that doesn't involve setbacks) and returns on Nov. 22 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Not only does that all but eliminate him from the race to make the most three-pointers in the NBA, but it also knocks him out of the team's first 11 games. At least only two of those contests—home and away games against the Lakers—are against teams listed up above as fringe contenders for Western Conference playoff berths.
Is this toe injury going to make Ethan Sherwood Strauss' prediction on ESPN's 2013-14 outlook for New Orleans look genius? After all, he said, "They will finish 11th in the West and validate my League Pass subscription. Sadly, I expect some injuries (based on how their medical staff has handled Davis)."
Will the Pelicans make the playoffs?
Unless Anderson's absence prohibits the Pelicans from developing chemistry and learning to fly together as a single flock, it won't end up being too detrimental. No. 11 is still far too low.
NOLA can overcome a weak opening schedule even without the services of this Sixth Man of the Year candidate, seeing as there are two games against the Phoenix Suns, one against the Philadelphia 76ers, two against the Utah Jazz, one against the Orlando Magic and one against the Charlotte Bobcats mixed in among the 11.
Anderson's injury is surely a blow to the Pelicans' hopes, but it won't be the end of the world. This is still a playoff-caliber team.