NBA Preview: New faces give Pelicans reasons for hope

Editor’s note: This is the fifth of Sam Amico’s look at all 30 NBA teams heading into the 2013-14 season.

Meet the Pelicans

You know it’s a good summer when you steal an All-Star point guard for a guy with a bum knee who’s never played an NBA game.

So, yes, there’s more to like about New Orleans’ pro basketball team than their new nickname.

Actually, you may not care for the “Pelicans” moniker — but that’s actually beside the point. What matters most is the guy wearing the uniforms. And the Pelicans got another good one when they traded the No. 6 overall draft pick to Philadelphia for Jrue Holiday.

Holiday was a first-time All-Star for the 76ers last season, and just turned 23 over the summer. (The Sixers received ex-Kentucky center Nerlens Noel in return.)

So add the talented Holiday to a starting lineup that includes promising big man Anthony Davis and shooting guard Eric Gordon (if he ever gets healthy), and the Pelicans could have their Big Three of the Future.

As for the here and now, well, it’s not too shabby, either.

After all, the Pelicans don’t end with Davis, Holiday and Gordon. Newcomer Tyreke Evans, who arrives from Sacramento, is a dynamic scorer who can handle the ball and will slide right in to the small forward spot.

Also, sharpshooting power forward Ryan Anderson returns to again put in his bid for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award.

Finally, let’s not forget underrated coach Monty Williams. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares not that he finally has a cast with which to direct.

Suddenly, the Pelicans are truly worthy of our attention. And not just because we’re calling them something new.

Coach: Monty Williams (fourth season, 94-136)

Last season: 27-55, did not make playoffs.

Projected starters: C Jason Smith; PF Anthony Davis; SF Tyreke Evans; SG Eric Gordon; PG Jrue Holiday.

Key reserves:
PF Ryan Anderson; G Austin Rivers; G Brian Roberts; SF Al-Farouq Aminu; SG Anthony Morrow; C Jeff Withey (r); C Greg Stiemsma.

New faces: Evans, Holiday, Morrow, Stiemsma, Withey.

Outlook: While there’s plenty to be excited, the Pelicans are still fairly inexperienced. They’re not especially deep (although not awful in that department), and there’s no proof they have a legit starting center. So it will likely take some time. That’s not such a bad thing, though. Not when you’re off to a good start.

Prediction: 36-46.

FOX Sports: Pelicans home.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO