The New Orleans Pelicans are in a tight race with the OKC Thunder for the 8th and final playoffs spot in the Western Conference. Earlier this season we picked the Pelicans to be one of the most surprising teams in the league–a prediction that’s beginning to become more of a reality. Can Anthony Davis and Co. play spoiler to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook‘s shot at making a postseason run? The Sports Unbiased NBA staff weigh in with their opinions.
Keith Rivas (S.U. Writer): From what they’ve showed us thus far, I would have to say that the New Orleans Pelicans are NOT the type of team that can really thrive in the Western Conference — and the reason is shorter than you might expect. In every other Western Conference playoff team there are at least two star players that form a dynamic duo and when one falls, the other tends to rise to the occasion.
In New Orleans, it’s Anthony Davis or bust if they plan on going anywhere in the post season.
Here’s the other duos for the West (organized by playoff seed) that New Orleans lacks:
1. Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley/Marc Gasol
3. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard/LaMarcus Aldrige
4. Houston Rockets – James Harden/Josh Smith
5. LA Clippers – Chris Paul/DeAndre Jordan
6. San Antonio Spurs – Tony Parker/Tim Duncan
7. Dallas Mavericks – Rajon Rondo/Dirk Nowitzki
Without another star to feed off of Davis’ presence, the Pelicans will hit a roadblock. They have the eight seed as of now, but the Oklahoma City Thunder (who have Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant) are right behind them.
Steve Turner (NBA Contributor): If the New Orleans Pelicans want to see the playoffs, they need Anthony Davis to stay healthy, however, OKC is looking like they’re going to make the playoffs too. With Kevin Durant coming back in about two weeks and Westbrook playing out of his mind, OKC should be the team to get the 8th seed in the west. Also, the Pelicans really need Jrue Holiday back to seal up that 8th spot. If Durant can return 100% healthy though, OKC should be the team with the 8th seed. The Suns are in the conversation too. I don’t think they have the pieces to get into the playoffs with all of this competition in the west but you can’t count them out just yet.
Jeb Taylor (NBA Contributor): Despite Anthony Davis’ breakout season, the Pelicans will not be able to get themselves into the postseason. They sit a half game above OKC at the moment, but the fact that Oklahoma has been able to tread water in the standings, without the reigning-MVP Kevin Durant, shows that they are just the better team. When KD returns, which he should in 1-2 weeks, the Thunder will roll like they have the last few seasons. New Orleans had an opportunity to gain ground on Oklahoma City while Durant was out — they didn’t, and Westbrook and Durant will make them pay for that. If the Pelicans want any chance at the playoffs this season, the Brow will need to take over the way the whole league knows he can- night in, night out.
Jr. Williams (NBA Editor): The Pelicans could find themselves in a fight to the bittersweet end versus the Thunder for the final playoffs spot, however, health will ultimately decide the fate of these two teams as both organizations have key players sidelined with injuries. OKC has been without their superstar Kevin Durant for several weeks, while the Pelicans have been without Jrue Holiday for nearly two months, not-to-mention a left ankle sprain that will render Tyreke Evans less than 100 percent for at least two-weeks. If I had to pick a team right now, it would be the Thunder FTW. They have the experience and appear to be equipped to make a late season run to snatch up the final slot in the west. But, don’t get it twisted– the Pelicans could shock us all.