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Thread: Pelicans Best Case Scenario

  1. #1

    Pelicans Best Case Scenario

    The worst case scenario obviously comes about because of injuries. The median outcome, we have discussed. But what is the absolute best case scenario? Paint the picture, maybe using some historic teams that have some similarities. I will start.

    Obviously, the best version of this team sees Zion as the main guy, an MVP caliber player. BI is nice, and its good and all that the team pretends he is the face of the franchise, but he will never get to that tier where he can be a true #1 on a contender. IMO He could be the best guy on a given night, in a playoff game or two even, but Zion can be the best guy in a late round playoff series if it all goes right. So, it starts there -- Zion is Shaq on offense, as far as being unstoppable in the paint and high scoring on high efficiency. Then, the key is him on the other side, where he becomes the young Draymond that he was at Duke. Not Defensive Player of the Year, crafty, older Draymond. But the young Draymond who was a good help defender and could cover bigger wings on ball.

    Then, Herb takes the step up offensively that many want to see, with him being able to create more on ball and run some sets while other guys bend the D off the ball. Basically, a version of half court Ben Simmons on offense (and Simmons on D) that actually shoots. Trey becomes what OG became around 2019-2020 - a good 3 point threat who could create for himself a little and just had arms everywhere on D. BI obviously takes another small step - in efficiency and D, but his raw numbers are down a touch, obviously. CJ and Jonas are steady and lead on and off the court, having big nights when Zion and/or BI are taking a night off, but mostly pacing themselves.

    I think the historical team that they could most resemble if absolutely everything goes right is the 2001-02 Kings. You got Zion as Webber, scoring and also doing some playmaking for others. Ingram is Peja - who was a little different back then. He wasnt JUST a shooter. 21ppg, but only 4.4 of his 16 attempts were 3's. He actually got to the midrange quite a bit and got to the rim. CJ is a better Bibby, but similar. Can play on or off ball and might be the guy you actually want taking the clutch shot. Jonas as Vlade. Young Trey as Young Hedo. Herb as a longer Christie (who averaged 2 steals a game that year). Young 19 year old Gerald Wallace was on that team and barely played but showed flashes when he got some minutes (Dyson Daniels). Jose Alvarado as pesky, change of pace guard, Bobby Jackson.

    Its a solid comp if everything goes right, and that Kings team went 61-21 in a less top heavy West. But if we are talking best, best case scenarios, the Pelicans are riding high in February and just go for it with a trade. And what should they trade for? When you look at the West, I think you are never going to have too much size at the wing to allow you to switch on and off ball screens, and thats why they trade for Harrison Barnes - another King, coincidently.

    Playoff rotation is: CJ, Herb, BI, Zion, Jonas, Barnes, Trey, and Nance. Jose gets sprinkled in once and a while to spice things up. Can go fully switchable lineups if they take CJ and Jonas out, without really sacrificing the offense. Have a bunch of different guys they can throw at Luka, Kawhi, and PG. Tons of length to give Steph problems, and can switch all those off ball screens. Can even have Dyson use up some energy and fouls on those guys to wear them down.

    Absolute best case scenario is great health (similar to the 07-08 season), and a trade that gets them another playoff tested guy. Win 58 games (a franchise record), and face off with the Clips or Warriors in the WCF, where they have a punchers chance. What you all got?
    @mcnamara247

  2. #2
    I think the best case scenario for this team, as currently constructed, is a legitimate championship contender - I'm not going to go as far as to say they simply will win championships because for that even the best teams require some luck. There have been plenty of amazing, championship quality teams who simply haven't won chips because of bad luck, or running into another championship calibre team that gets the coinflip over them. Probably the best example of this in recent history was Golden State losing to the Cavs: obviously a championship level team, they literally won championships on the year before and after that season with the same core for the most part, but Lebron had one of the best playoff runs ever, Kyrie hit the shot, etc etc.

    As for the specific developments this team would need to see in order to reach that level, I largely agree with your points.

    1) Zion's defense would have to come back. I'm still one of those people who will die on the hill that his defense wasn't quite as bad as some people said the last time he played, but that doesn't mean I think it was good, because it wasn't. It was a negative, and clearly a weakness in his game. In order for him to be an MVP I don't really think defensive improvement is needed because we know the NBA will happily give MVP to players who don't play defense, but in order for him to peak, he will need that improvement. Early Draymond is a pretty good comparison in terms of where he could be on that end.

    2) Herb takes a step up as a shooter. I think his defense is already all-league, and so there's no specific need for improvement there, and I don't think it's necessary for him to become a legitimate ballhandler, but he needs to go from being a meh shooter to a good one. If he can shoot 37 or 38% from 3 on reasonable volume (3.5 a game, maybe?) then that suddenly becomes very significant for his two-way impact. Obviously his game is different, but I think his mixture of defensive versatility and shooting with plus passing puts him in a similar category of impact and role as a 2006-2009 Kirilenko.

    3) Trey needs to peak as a legitimately fantastic shooter. I think that's fairly likely in real life, but I'm talking something like 40% on 8 3PAs per 100 or more; in many ways he would be playing the Klay Thompson role for us in that he's capable of using size and length to maximise shooting impact and also cover perimeter defense, but I think Trey's athleticism is higher than Klay's and he has more on-ball ability. That's not to say he'll have a better career than Klay of course, but I think if he peaks he can be a more versatile threat, so 2015-16 Klay with plus ballhandling makes sense as a comparison.

    4) CJ and BI are, I think, already pretty solid. What I would want from BI is for his shooting to return to his own form from a season ago. Last year his 3pt shooting dropped off in volume and percentage and he had some spells where he shot pretty terrible from behind the arc; not just dry spells in terms of percentage, but periods where he was refusing to take them as well. I think with Zion back we'll see those numbers come back up, and I think that's necessary for the team to peak as well. Not only does it make BI a more efficient threat but it obviously impacts spacing to a huge degree.

    I think your Kings comparison is reasonable, but I would also like to throw my hat in the ring for something like the mid-2000s Suns. Now, it's tempting to think that's not the case because we're probably a slower team in today's NBA (not glacial, but not top 5 in pace) and the Suns have a reputation for that speedy offense, but in 2004-5 the Suns had a 95.9 Pace, which in today's NBA would be a bottom 5 pace. The game is way faster now, and I think that level of pace is fairly standard today. That year, the Suns won 62 games, led the league in rebounding, assists, and points per game. They were 2nd in the NBA in 2pt%, and led the league in ORtg while being fairly middle of the pack on DRtg.

    Stylistically, I don't think they're a good comparison: we don't have Nash-like central hubs, our lead scoring big (Zion) is a more on-ball threat than Stoudemire, etc etc. But in terms of the on court result: a strong rebounding team that dominates offensively andd only has to avoid disaster on defense to peak, who can mow through the regular season by being super efficient from 2 and sharing the ball, while playing at probably around a 96-98 pace? That, I think, is a semi reasonable outcome to expect.

    The downside is that the Suns never won a championship, and even in the season I mention they lost in the WCF. But while obviously getting that luck and winning a championship would be awesome, is there any Pels fan who would turn down what the Suns had then? They had 6 straight .500+ seasons, including seasons of 62, 54, 61, 55, and 54 wins, made the conference finals 3 times, and produced 2 MVP seasons for the lead star. Sure, a Championship is the peak but getting that would be legitimately the best period in Pelicans history by a huge margin, and I'd take it every day.
    Basketball.

  3. #3
    Like the Kings comparison, except now hopefully the new Big Shot Bob (Trey Murphy) is playing on our side. Also, interesting X-factor in the success of that Kings team was that they ran the Princeton offense, which gave a lot of teams fits on defense.

    You could also compare the Pels with the same-era Lakers, with Zion playing the interior scoring role of Shaq, BI the attacking mid-range of Kobe, CJ as an upgraded Derek Fisher, Herb in the Rick Fox role and Trey as Horry.

    All that's fun, but I think most realistic optimistic outcome for Pels, this year, is a 5th or 6th seed who gets bounced in the second round. I really think they are going to need 20-30 games to blend the roster (despite BI's notion that they can sort it all out now) and I would not be at all surprised (or discouraged) if they make the turn at around .500. Once they have established their roles and rotations in the second half, barring injuries, they'll be a pretty tough squad to beat.

  4. #4
    RIP BDJ AUSSIE_PELICAN's Avatar
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    You just love hyping these fans up don't you?
    Just to see their tears when expectations don't prevail.

    This team is 5th or 6th at best in the West.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by AUSSIE_PELICAN View Post
    You just love hyping these fans up don't you?
    Just to see their tears when expectations don't prevail.

    This team is 5th or 6th at best in the West.
    I don't see that it's hyping up to explicitly say that we're discussing the very best outcome. That means we're all acknowledging that these outcomes are unlikely to happen and would require lots to go right and very little to go wrong.

    That said, the idea that we're 5th at best is a bit odd to me, I think that vastly underrates the team.

  6. #6
    I think we can atleast be a top four seed and only team I don’t want us to face is the warriors especially if klay starts to get back to form until our perimeter defense improves they will be our problem all these other teams we give a run for their money; ig the timberwolves are kinda a problem too but I think we can handle them Anthony Edwards and Karl are ballers though

  7. #7
    RIP BDJ AUSSIE_PELICAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pelicanidae View Post
    I don't see that it's hyping up to explicitly say that we're discussing the very best outcome. That means we're all acknowledging that these outcomes are unlikely to happen and would require lots to go right and very little to go wrong.

    That said, the idea that we're 5th at best is a bit odd to me, I think that vastly underrates the team.
    No it's not intentional, but fans do see this as hype and are disappointed afterwards, which is their fault really.

    I myself have learned to temper expectations.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by AUSSIE_PELICAN View Post
    No it's not intentional, but fans do see this as hype and are disappointed afterwards, which is their fault really.

    I myself have learned to temper expectations.
    Sure but the expectations are tempered. This is not a ''what's your baseline expectation for the season'' thread, it's an ''if every single thing goes right, what could happen'' thread. So of course it's going to feature words or phrases like ''finals'', ''conference finals'', ''55 wins'', ''franchise best'', et cetera; if your best case scenario can only imagine a 5 seed then that's a pretty damning condemnation of the squad.

    At the start of last season very few people would have said, if asked, that Memphis was going to win 56 games and be the 2nd seed in the West. In fact, if you look it up: Forbes didn't have them projected in the top 6, Kevin Pelton at ESPN projected 36 wins and a 10th seed for Memphis, Bleacher Report predicted 42 wins, and TeamRankings.com predicted 32 wins. But everything went right for them, and they won 56 games. It's not impossible that, if everything goes right for us, we win 50 games too and end up a top 4 seed.

    For us, in my mind ''everything going right'' means:

    1) Nobody misses more than about 10 games.
    2) Garrett Temple basically never sees the floor.
    3) Zion regains some of his Duke defensive abilities alongside his newfound fitness
    4) Ingram's 3pt shooting rebounds from last year
    5) CJ features no drop off
    6) We get reasonable growth (or at least stagnation) from the youth rather than seeing sophomore slumps
    7) Coach Green has settled into his role and makes fewer frustrating choices

    Obviously that's a lot to ask, which is why it's a best-case abstract rather than a medium expectation, but why not have a bit of fun imagining as long as we all understand it's unlikely?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelicanidae View Post
    I don't see that it's hyping up to explicitly say that we're discussing the very best outcome. That means we're all acknowledging that these outcomes are unlikely to happen and would require lots to go right and very little to go wrong.

    That said, the idea that we're 5th at best is a bit odd to me, I think that vastly underrates the team.
    Correct.

    Like all best case scenarios, I would see mine as having maybe a 1-2 percent chance of happening. Similar to the chances we go 26-56 because the absolute worst case scenario plays out

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    Correct.

    Like all best case scenarios, I would see mine as having maybe a 1-2 percent chance of happening. Similar to the chances we go 26-56 because the absolute worst case scenario plays out
    Yeah absolutely. Just as I said the best case scenario has nobody missing more than about 10 games, the worst case could easily see Zion, Ingram, and CJ out for 50+ games each and then we win 25 games and it's a nightmare. Could happen. Is that likely? Of course not, but it's not literally forbidden by the laws of the universe.

    I feel like saying that a team is at best a 5th seed if all goes right, is akin to saying that in a median season they're basically not a playoff team. Play-in, probably. Which I don't see being the case for this year's Pelicans. I think we're very probably a playoff team.

  11. #11
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    Best case scenario is we win the NBA Finals. Duh.

    Zion wins league MVP and is absolutely unstoppable. Double-teams are barely effective and when he kicks out, the 3s are wide open and guys like BI, CJ, Trey and Herb knock em down at 40+%. Jose takes a major leap and runs the second unit flawlessly. Dyson Daniels slots in here, there, and everywhere and shines.

    Lebron blows out his achillies tendon in game one and Anthony Davis is forced to "lead" THAT squad of nutcases. Anthony Davis stays healthy all year and the Lakers end up with the worst record in the league. The Lakers earn the #1 overall pick and we swap with them the #30 overall pick.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Upper Decker View Post
    Best case scenario is we win the NBA Finals. Duh.

    Zion wins league MVP and is absolutely unstoppable. Double-teams are barely effective and when he kicks out, the 3s are wide open and guys like BI, CJ, Trey and Herb knock em down at 40+%. Jose takes a major leap and runs the second unit flawlessly. Dyson Daniels slots in here, there, and everywhere and shines.

    Lebron blows out his achillies tendon in game one and Anthony Davis is forced to "lead" THAT squad of nutcases. Anthony Davis stays healthy all year and the Lakers end up with the worst record in the league. The Lakers earn the #1 overall pick and we swap with them the #30 overall pick.
    I found the last part of your message interesting. Could the long term best case scenario being the lakers being the worst and we get Webamyana

  13. #13
    The one very possible thing I could see happening is: Zion being dominant and BI actually being the guy that many see as the reason they dont win as many games, dont win a playoff series, etc because he plays below expectations. I am curious how fans will talk about him if that happens. I see all this talk about how BI is the face of the franchise, he is in the middle of the mural, he is the first one who bought in, etc. But we all know his ceiling is nothing close to Zion's, and what if Zion is MJ but BI isnt even close to Pippen? Gonna be real interesting to see what happens over the next 2 or 3 years if that is how it plays out. Could easily see the fan base shifting to 'we need to trade BI and get a better fit around Zion' even after all his loyalty

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by coreylaron View Post
    I found the last part of your message interesting. Could the long term best case scenario being the lakers being the worst and we get Webamyana
    Could you imagine? Victor + Zion + could dominate the next 10 years.

    If for some reason Lakers flail again, for whatever combo of reasons (injury, old, Westbrook fit, AD soft AF) - Lakers could be in the top-10 again, or even if it's in the 20's, Griff could finally consolidate future picks to move up in the draft for a top prospect - Scoot, Amen, Ausur, Whitmore (no team would likely consider trading #1 pick VW).

    Or Pels could use the pick to upgrade Graham / Hayes / even JV salary slots.
    For funsies:

    Victor
    Zion
    Ingram
    Murphy
    Herb
    ---
    Dyson
    Jose
    Nance
    Kira
    3-pt. shooters
    Billy HG
    Last edited by Rheem654; 09-29-2022 at 09:33 PM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by coreylaron View Post
    I found the last part of your message interesting. Could the long term best case scenario being the lakers being the worst and we get Webamyana
    So let's continue on this fantasy ride. Suppose we were to get Wembanyama. Where does he fit in our lineup?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    The one very possible thing I could see happening is: Zion being dominant and BI actually being the guy that many see as the reason they dont win as many games, dont win a playoff series, etc because he plays below expectations. I am curious how fans will talk about him if that happens. I see all this talk about how BI is the face of the franchise, he is in the middle of the mural, he is the first one who bought in, etc. But we all know his ceiling is nothing close to Zion's, and what if Zion is MJ but BI isnt even close to Pippen? Gonna be real interesting to see what happens over the next 2 or 3 years if that is how it plays out. Could easily see the fan base shifting to 'we need to trade BI and get a better fit around Zion' even after all his loyalty
    I certainly think that's possible but given how much improvement BI has made over the last few years and how loyal he's been and how solid he's been as a presence, I would really want to give BI every opportunity to prove that wrong. And even if it's true that he's not truly a #2 on a championship team, I think it's fairly clear that he can be the #2 on a very capable playoff team, and so he's earned the right to prove himself and he's reduced the need to make it a snap decision. If he had crumbled in the playoffs last year I think we would have a different perspective on it but given how well he performed, there's room to say ''okay, even if this guy is eventually going to have to be moved, he's still an asset to the team for now and we have time to explore our options and make a few playoff runs with him to make sure everything is what we think it is.''

    Like, two or three years of winning 50 ish games and getting past the first round is, in my opinion, very possible - especially if Zion comes close to his theoretical peak - and in that circumstance while BI might need to be moved in order to get over that final hurdle, it's not like he has to be urgently dumped for the first big name to hit the market. I don't think he's DeRozan.

  17. #17
    Expectations change, and when that happens, a lot of fans throw all the loyalty stuff they preach right out the window. They will tell you today that they would sign up for 2 or 3 seasons of 50+ wins and not be greedy, but they always do. Clippers fans would have said the same thing pre-CP3, and by year 3 and 4, they are whining about how they will never break through. Throwing this guy under the bus, and then that one. The coach, etc.

    When fans have high expectations, and the team fails, the only solace they have is to blame someone. Usually starts with the coach, then fringe players. But eventually, its one (or more) of the top guys. Personally, I think the best BI we will ever see is the one we saw in the Suns series. I am curious how the fan base will react when he doesnt take another step forward, and more often than not, takes one back from what we saw in that series.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by RobertM320 View Post
    So let's continue on this fantasy ride. Suppose we were to get Wembanyama. Where does he fit in our lineup?
    At center. Or not starting. The current roster has would have no bearing on that situation. He’s the guy

  19. #19
    I'm not falling for this annual off-season trolling when it comes to Brandon Ingram again . EVERYTHING I said about him 2 years ago has pretty much proven itself out on the court. And that's where I'll leave it.

    Best case scenario comes down to health and growth among the bench.

    Trey, Jose, Dyson and to a certain extent, Jaxson and Devonte hold the key to this being a top 3 seeded team or one that's back in the play-ins.

    Best case scenario is #1 seed in the west after a bloodbath among the top 4.
    Last edited by luckyman; 09-30-2022 at 12:50 AM.

  20. #20
    Also the defensive side of the ball remains a question mark with Zion returning.

    Some unforeseen positives have to reveal themselves on that end for any of this to happen.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyman View Post
    I'm not falling for this annual off-season trolling when it comes to Brandon Ingram again . EVERYTHING I said about him 2 years ago has pretty much proven itself out on the court. And that's where I'll leave it.

    Best case scenario comes down to health and growth among the bench.

    Trey, Jose, Dyson and to a certain extent, Jaxson and Devonte hold the key to this being a top 3 seeded team or one that's back in the play-ins.

    Best case scenario is #1 seed in the west after a bloodbath among the top 4.
    Its not trolling when someone wonders if something you personally disagree with 'could' happen.

    BI has been better without Zion than with him by every metric. Its a legit convo to have. Not a positive, sunshine pumping convo, mind you. But one that some might want to have nonetheless.

  22. #22
    For as long as I've been following the team, we have always settled for beating inferior teams by smaller margins, and getting burned at the end of a few of such games every year. This is done by resting starters, slowing down the game, etc. My best case scenario is that we develop a killer mentality of winning each game by as many damn points as possible. Figure out how many minutes we want our best players to play each game, then keep that commitment unless they get hurt or fouled out. Crush bad teams by 20-40 points and inflate the stats of our starters so they become stars and superstars. Take the risk that one might get tired or hurt, in order to develop the endurance for playoff basketball in addition to the swagger from winning big.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    The one very possible thing I could see happening is: Zion being dominant and BI actually being the guy that many see as the reason they dont win as many games, dont win a playoff series, etc because he plays below expectations. I am curious how fans will talk about him if that happens. I see all this talk about how BI is the face of the franchise, he is in the middle of the mural, he is the first one who bought in, etc. But we all know his ceiling is nothing close to Zion's, and what if Zion is MJ but BI isnt even close to Pippen? Gonna be real interesting to see what happens over the next 2 or 3 years if that is how it plays out. Could easily see the fan base shifting to 'we need to trade BI and get a better fit around Zion' even after all his loyalty
    Not far from kd level though I doubt anyone wants bi traded he?s for the most part consistent healthy and really young

  24. #24
    I think that is part of it, but the bigger part is that teams who consistently blow others out regularly are good defensive teams. That is the key to consistency and blowouts. Teams with high firepower but bad D will often get ahead, have a cold stretch and let the other team back in - even bad teams. You blow teams out when your D is good and even when you go on a cold stretch, you get stops and keep a double digit lead until the offense gets back on track. That’s always the formula, and until this team becomes a top 10 D, you will have those frustrating games more often than not

  25. #25
    Hall of Famer neitzelbaby12's Avatar
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    Agree with alot of what everyone has said and I'll throw some more out there:

    BI taking another step on D. He clearly didn't like playing for SVG and was horrid on the defensive end. His step from horrid to not bad was huge and if he can take another step up, that will really help.

    Trey becoming a D Robinson, Buddy, Klay level shooter. 7+ 3PA at a 39%+ rate

    Herb showing he can be a good enough shooter to not get taken off the court. Didn't happen last year but I imagine teams will leave him open in big moments like the Bucks did vs Grant Williams

    Dyson showing he can be a legit 8th or 9th guy on the team this year.
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