Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Bobcats - November 2, 2013
In a Saturday matchup in the Crescent City, the NBA team formerly nicknamed the “Hornets” hosts the franchise that has decided to be nicknamed “Hornets” starting with the 2014-15 season. Confused yet?
Owned by North Carolina native Michael Jordan, this is the final season that Charlotte’s NBA franchise will use the nickname “Bobcats.” Following the current season, the organization is reclaiming the name “Charlotte Hornets,” which was the city’s NBA tag from 1988-2002. Meanwhile, New Orleans rebranded its franchise to permanently become the Pelicans starting with this season, after being known as the “New Orleans Hornets” from 2002-13.
Other than sharing an insect-themed nickname over various periods of time, Charlotte and New Orleans are also currently among the youngest teams in the league. The franchises picked No. 1 and 2 at the top of the 2012 NBA Draft and chose University of Kentucky players. New Orleans tabbed power forward Anthony Davis with the top pick after Davis led UK to the 2012 NCAA title, while Charlotte selected small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2.
Davis finished second in the NBA’s Rookie of the Year vote in 2012-13, while Kidd-Gilchrist’s progress has been a bit slower. The defensive-minded wing player wound up eighth in the ROY voting, which was won by Portland point guard Damian Lillard.
Behind their young core groups, New Orleans (27-55 last season) and Charlotte (21-61) hope to be among the NBA’s most improved teams in 2013-14. The Pelicans made several moves to immediately put a better team on the floor, including acquiring talented scorers Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. The Bobcats generally appear to be taking a more measured approach, but they signed low-post force Al Jefferson to a lucrative contract in free agency. Charlotte has lacked a go-to scorer throughout most of the past decade, making the rugged Jefferson a valuable addition.
Jrue Holiday vs. Kemba Walker
Coming off an All-Star appearance in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia last season, Holiday’s presence is one of the biggest reasons for optimism in New Orleans. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has a size advantage on the 6-1 Walker, but the former NCAA champion at Connecticut is quick and can get hot from the perimeter. Walker led Charlotte in scoring last season at 17.7 points per game.