Clean bill of health?
The health of forward Ryan Anderson as well as teammates Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans rates as the biggest issue, and clearly dominated the team’s story and performance last season. Anderson, who had a collision last season with the Boston Celtics’ Gerald Wallace that resulted in two herniated discs in his neck, has been cleared to play by doctors. However, the injury was so career-threatening it merits watching during training camp and preseason games. Holiday has returned from a season-ending right tibia stress fracture. Evans had knee surgery and isn’t yet 100 percent healed. All are key players.
Finding their center
The addition of center Omer Asik gives the Pelicans a very good defender, which goes well with coach Monty Williams’ style of play. Asik also doesn’t demand the ball much offensively, which, on a team with enough scorers in the starting lineup, should not present a problem. However, he has to adjust to the team and the team to him. Training camp and the preseason obviously is the time to do that, even though it could take time for the Pelicans to jell.
Can A.D. get a break?
How much will All-Star and World Cup gold medalist Anthony Davis play in preseason games, and how will the team handle his practice time during the preseason? Davis has said he is ready to go — after taking only a week off after returning from Spain, despite coaches asking him to take a longer breather. However, Williams said it is important to keep the team’s franchise player fresh for the season, especially mentally, after he spent more than a month participating with the USA team from late July to early September. Asked if he will rest more during training camp, Davis said that’s a question for Williams.
The Evans-Eric Gordon battle at shooting guard bears watching. Both, of course, want to be in the starting lineup. Evans said he would be willing to play small forward, but that didn’t work out well last season. Gordon said they can coexist as starters. One may have to come off the bench, which again will make things interesting. They’re saying the right things. For now. ... Then again, Evans, who came off the bench in 50 of his 72 appearances last season, will miss three to five weeks with a hamstring injury, and he’ll be trying to catch up.
From beyond the arc
How will the Pelicans do as a 3-point-shooting team? Last season, New Orleans finished sixth in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (37.3). With Anderson injured, that was mainly on the strength of Anthony Morrow, who finished fourth in the NBA at 42.0 percent. Morrow signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason and was replaced by guard Jimmer Fredette. In college at BYU, Fredette was a lethal outside shooter. However, he has struggled getting his shot overall against taller, more athletic players in the NBA. How the Pelicans make him more effective could be fun to watch.