Building the Ultimate Highlight Reel from New Orleans Pelicans' Regular Season
Even though the New Orleans Pelicans finished the regular season with a 34-48 record and last place standing in the Southwest Division, there were still some unbelievable moments along the way.
Fans have reason to be optimistic despite the team posting their third straight losing campaign. The dynamic athletes on this squad have the potential to jell into a very potent unit.
From the growth of Anthony Davis to the resurgence of Tyreke Evans, there were very encouraging flashes that bode well for the club's future.
As the Pelicans' management starts the evaluation process of how to best prepare for 2014-15, let's take a look at some of the standout moments from this most recent run.
The following highlight clips were chosen based on the preciseness of execution, degree of difficulty and entertainment value with an overall aim of showcasing as many players as possible.
All video clips courtesy of NBA.com.
10. Jrue Holiday Takes Randy Foye for a Spin
Jrue Holiday logged only 34 games for the Pelicans, but he produced his fair share of jaw-dropping moments—like this one.
During a road game against the Denver Nuggets, the fourth-year guard was leading a break but didn't have the numbers. Most ball-handlers would've slowed down and allowed his teammates to get into their half-court set.
Realizing that the Nuggets were not in position defensively as there was only one man to beat, Holiday looked as if he were about to throw a pass then hit a quick pirouette that took him right past Randy Foye and to the hoop.
It was a perfect example of misdirection and worth repeated viewing.
9. Big Man Has Soft Hands
A center fulfills his duties every night if he sets solid screens, plays tough defense and grabs more than a few rebounds. Any other positive contribution is hardly expected but greatly appreciated.
Here, Greg Stiemsma dipped into his playmaker bag and pulled out a behind-the-back pass that resulted in a three-point bucket for Anthony Morrow.
This play is not only noteworthy because the big man made a pretty sweet dish, rather he made it on the move throwing in the opposite direction.
To top if off, Stiemsma was even in good position to clean up on the glass if Morrow had missed.
8. Ryan Anderson Gets Buckets
On December 1, 2013, the Pelicans traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks. Coincidentally, this game took place on the same day that Ryan Anderson hosted a shooting clinic.
The former Berkeley Golden Bear shot 52 percent from the field and rained down seven three-pointers.
He led all scorers as he helped his team notch the win.
It's beautiful to watch shooters when they are on. Attempts seem to fall from everywhere, even the ones that don't look like they're going in.
Press play and watch Anderson's shots run the gamut from all-net to shooter's bounce. The Pelicans sure could have used his touch for the duration of this past season.
7. Tyreke Evans and Alexis Ajinca Demonstrate the Beauty of the Basics
In a league full of speedsters and high-flyers, fundamental things like the pick-and-roll seem a bit boring. It does take a basketball purist to fully appreciate the simple, effective set, but it would be every fan's favorite if it was executed the way Tyreke Evans and Alexis Ajinca do here against the Los Angeles Clippers.
These two could not have done it any better. Ajinca held the screen just long enough to force Glen Davis to pick up Evans while giving Darren Collison the illusion that he could still catch his defensive assignment.
After both Clippers players collapse on Evans, the big man from France has a clear path to the basket where he catches a perfectly lobbed ball. Throw it down!
6. Tyreke Evans Refuses to Lose
Everyone likes game-winning shots, unless they're on the receiving end.
Portland Trail Blazers' fans had a short-lived celebration after Damian Lillard hit a fantastic three-pointer to tie this contest. Evans would not be outdone, though, bringing up the ball without calling a timeout and hitting the go-ahead bucket.
Honing that mid-range jumper into a reliable offensive weapon would be the best thing the Pelicans guard could do for next season.
5. New Orleans' Past Connects with Its Present
Pelicans fans would probably love to have Chris Paul paired with Anthony Davis. Alas, the only venue for that combination is the NBA All-Star Game.
This exhibition isn't known for it's defensive demonstration, allowing the extraordinary to become pretty mundane. Still, it's pretty nice to see New Orleans' former premier basketball player connect with the current Crescent City superstar.
The play is a great combination of Paul's awareness and Davis' floor running (and very lax transition defense from the Eastern Conference All-Stars).
4. Al-Farouq Aminu Improvises on the Fly
A successful fast break is a mix of being able to space the floor, push the ball, fill the lanes and hang in the air long enough to double clutch a dunk.
Those elements came together perfectly on this advancement against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Al-Farouq Aminu's flash was more from necessity than wanting to showboat. Thaddeus Young was in position to block the flush, but the extra motion helped Aminu avoid the big man's long arms.
Even with the sparse attendance, the emphatic reaction from the crowd underscores the impressive display of athleticism.
3. Eric Gordon Brings the Circus to Canada
If rim-rattling dunks are tops on a fan favorite list, then improbable shots are a close second.
Eric Gordon is a scorer. He will find a way to get buckets whether it's on a drive or knocking them down from the outside. He does a little of both against Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto's 6'6" shooting guard actually does a good job of staying in front of his man despite the skilled ball-handling. As soon as Gordon sees a little daylight, he makes his move but is cut off. After drawing contact, the former Hoosier throws up a high-arcing shot that manages to fall.
He was probably anticipating a whistle but fouls are different in Canada.
2. Anthony Davis Rises Above the Heat
Basketball camps stress the importance of fundamentals—like communicating and boxing out. The Miami Heat forgot those lessons on this particular play.
LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Norris Cole all watch as Jason Smith's shot attempt rolls off of the rim. As James boxes out Al-Farouq Aminu and reaches for the rebound, the other two Heat players seem awed at the ball's trajectory and totally miss Anthony Davis.
The Brow takes flight and throws down a remarkable follow-up slam.
1. New Orleans Pelicans Play Matador to the Chicago Bulls
Close basketball games make spectators run the gamut of human emotion. On December 2, 2013, the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls took all onlookers through the entire spectrum of feelings several times with their triple overtime thriller.
The highlight here is the gutsy performance on the part of both teams. It was clear that each club really wanted to win, but the Pelicans wanted it just a little more.
A special tip of the hat goes to Jrue Holiday who hit a bucket to tie the score at the end of regulation and pulled off a three-point play that gave his team the go-ahead points at the end of the third overtime period.
This was a perfect example of when heart meets execution.