1) Is this is Demps’ last stand?
Dell Demps enters his seventh season as general manager in New Orleans, and the natural question bubbling up is whetherthis year’s team will determine his future with the franchise. The team has made just two playoff appearances in the previous six seasons and New Orleans’ 203-273 regular-season record under Demps’ watch is uninspiring. The franchise has been marred by Chris Paul’s trade demand in 2010 and a slew of injuries in the following years. Still, the question of whether to continue with Demps likely hinges on this team’s performance.
2) Is Anthony Davis healthy?
The superstar power forward regressed in some statistical categories and national relevance last season, but the most critical question facing Anthony Davis this season revolves around his health. Davis missed the final 13 games of last season and had offseason surgery to repair his left knee (ultrasonic debridement). At this time last year, MVP talk surrounded the budding star and now the question is less on whether he can grow his game to an elite level, but if he’ll be healthy enough to do it. All indications say he’s 100 percent ready for camp but he’ll have to prove it.
3) How much time will Jrue Holiday miss?
It was revealed earlier this month that Lauren Holiday, Jrue Holiday’s pregnant wife, has a brain tumor which will require surgery after she gives birth. The Pelicans have allowed Holiday to leave team activities to tend to his family and have kept his return data indefinite. Coach Alvin Gentry and Demps both said they won’t rush Holiday back to floor, claiming he will return when he’s able to concentrate fully on basketball.
4) Will Buddy Hield start?
Holiday’s absence at the start of the season will throw the starting lineup off kilter at the point guard position, but it could also affect first-round draft pick Buddy Hield. Without Holiday to pair with Hield, New Orleans loses its defensive strength on the perimeter, meaning Gentry could choose to team free agent acquisition E’Twaun Moore, and his stronger defensive presence, in the backcourt to go alongside point guard Tim Frazier.
5) Who is in the middle?
Center Omer Asik signed a long-term contract last offseason, but was used sparingly by Gentry. Demps admitted the 7-footer underperformed last year and expects Asik to come back this season closer to the form that earned him a five-year, $58 million deal just a year ago. If not, the Pelicans could go smaller, for longer stretches, utilizing Davis at the center spot and playing Solomon Hill and Quincy Pondexter together at the forward positions.