Forget the previous incarnation of Pierre the Pelican, the Pelicans’ King Cake Baby is the most terrifying mascot I’ve ever seen. Evidently, the maniac was running around New Orleans delivering King Cakes, via Uber, to the unsuspecting masses last week. The fact that the most intense freak in the world wasn’t pummeled by an alarmed citizen has to qualify as a big win for the Crescent City. On the other hand, having to look into the eyes of this bulbous-headed beast giving you a sugary confection would qualify as a huge loss. Terrifying. Also a perfect analogy for a New Orleans Pelicans basketball season that has had every “up” invariably followed by a “down”…or two.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 6, 2017
Let’s start with some positivity. The biggest of all ups is the work that All-World forward Anthony Davis has put in. Davis’ torrid assault on the stat sheet continued against the New York Knicks, where the star went for 40 points and 18 rebounds in less than three quarters.
Davis’ night was cut short when New York’s center Kyle O’Quinn pushed Davis from behind on a fast break and sent Unibrow into the stands, injuring his hip. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, there was no retaliation from the Pelicans. Either way, Davis returned in a loss to the Chicago Bulls, where he piled up 36 points and 14 rebounds.
To be successful in the NBA, a team needs to have three players that can be counted on to score buckets on a nightly basis. And if there were a “Big 3” in New Orleans, the name Jrue Holiday would be on that list. Meaning, Holiday needs to start producing on a nightly basis for the Pelicans. While it’s true that Holiday has had some big nights in the assist column…Tim Frazier can do that. The $11 million guard has to become a consistent threat and overcome the 3-for-8 performance against New York and 0-for-7 outing versus Chicago.
Is Tyreke Evans back? The answer needs to be a resounding yes, but time will still tell. Either way, since his return from not one, but three knee surgeries Evans playing time has been capped. The team might be about to reap what it has sown as Evans exploded for 29 points against the New Jersey Nets. But…it was the Nets, folks. So, get hopeful but stay cautious.
The city of New Orleans seems to be haunted by the management of its sport teams recently. After watching the Saints get walked into the hellscape of free agents turning into dead money, the Pelicans now have $15 million dollars keeping the bench warm. To say that the insignificant duo of Omer Asik ($9.9 million) and Alexis Anjica ($4.6 million) have been playing poorly would imply they’ve been playing at all. Asik rode the bench for eight games straight before starting against the Nets, whereupon he was yanked after five minutes of play and resumed his spot on the bench. Not to be outdone, Anjica kept his seat warm for seven games straight before clocking a scintillating three minutes of action versus the Nets. Ouch.
Keep hope alive, New Orleans! The Pelicans are only a half-game out of the Western conference playoffs at the halfway point of the season. Buddy Hield is still cutting his teeth, but could evolve into a much-needed threat. A healthy Evans could create a one-two punch with Davis and if Holiday steps up the Pelicans could have a real shot at making the playoffs and getting to play the Golden State Warriors. Gulp.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Vile Liquor Pairing: Anything called, “King Cake Vodka”
Playlist Recommendation: Les Freres Balpas – ‘Tit galop pour Mamou’
Around the Way
We’re officially one month away from the beginning of baseball season. Tulane will kick the season off with a weekend of games, alternating between Army and Air Force. The Green Wave will return some heavy bats to the lineup, led by pre-season all-conference selections Jake Willsey (10 homeruns) and Hunter Williams (9 HR’s). Those two will be joined by fellow long-ball artists Hunter Hope (14 HR’s) and Jeremy Montalbano (12 HR’s).
Besides the power display, the Green Wave could be more impressive on the hill. Tulane brings back pre-season all-conference selection Ross Massey (10-3, 2.29 ERA), Corey Merrill (4-1, 3 saves, 2.05 ERA) and J.P. “Tiger Killer” France (6-4, 3.33 ERA). Don’t let Merrill’s stat line fool you. He was Tulane’s number one pitcher coming into last season before suffering a forearm injury, after which then-coach David Pierce elected to bring Merrill out of the bullpen. Newcomer Chase Solesky also struck out nine in the Green Wave alumni game.
It all adds up to a lot of power and plenty of star potential on the mound which, to me, equals Tulane being picked to finish third in the American as complete nonsense. But hey, chalkboard material goes a long way.
Out on the lakefront, coach Blake Dean will continue his resurrection of the Privateers program. After opening a lot of eyes last year, New Orleans won’t sneak up on anyone in 2017 but won’t fear the Southland heavyweights like Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana either. Dean will ride Riley Hodge on the mound in hopes of getting more from the pitching staff. If not, look for a lot of shootouts with the Privateers returning four batters (Aaron Palmer, Jay Robinson, Dakota Dean, Hezekia Randolph) who hit over .300 last year.