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Pelicans vs. Nuggets preview: Battle of the Birds, Anthony Davis

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Arguably the third best player, or third most valuable player, in the league is in town tonight to face the Nuggets.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor
Game 75: 2013-14 NBA Season

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@
32-42 (12-24 away)
Series 2-1 NOLA
32-42 (19-18 home)
April 2nd, 2014
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Brian Roberts PG Ty Lawson
Tyreke Evans SG Randy Foye
Al-Farouq Aminu SF Quincy Miller
Anthony Davis PF Kenneth Faried
Greg Stiemsma C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
The Bird Writes (preview up!) Blogs Denver Stiffs
Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith are out. Eric Gordon is day to day. Injuries Danilo Gallinari (knee), JaVale McGee (leg fracture), Nate Robinson (ACL sprain), JJ Hickson (ACL), Wilson Chandler (Groin) are out.

The Nuggets and Pelicans all time series is tied 34-34.

Stat

The Nuggets are 21-13 at home vs the Pelicans and 13-21 on the road, all time.

You've just purchased an NBA team in St. Louis, there are also two other cities joining the league in Seattle and Fargo. The expansion draft is here and you have the third pick. Every NBA player is available and the first two selections have been made ... you're on the clock, who do you take?

Nate's fictional Expansion Draft for the 2014-15 NBA season:

1.) Seattle: LeBron James.

2.) Fargo: Kevin Durant. (Bring a coat!)

3.) St Louis takes ...

If your answer is someone other than Anthony Davis, you have just made a disastrous decision. Davis is averaging 21.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game to go along with a player efficiency rating (PER) of 27.04. He just came back from a minor injury and put up 22 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, 2 steals, and just 1 turnover. Davis is just 21 years old. Oh, and did I mention that he recently had a 40 point, 21 rebound night? Check it out ...


For me, Davis is why you keep your draft picks and make selections. Sure, he was a "can't miss" number one pick, but you never know what a player might turn into once they taste a little NBA success. Davis is a cornerstone piece that NOLA can build around for years. Hopefully, they figure out a way to keep him and he doesn't wind up going the Chris Paul route (traded to the Clippers).

In order to retain Davis past his first extension, the Pelicans need to build a winner and that just hasn't happened yet. Like the Nuggets, the Pelicans have been snake-bit by the injury bug this season. They lost Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday and have limped to an identical 32-42 record as the Nuggets.

In just two games against Denver, Davis has averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds. Like many power forwards this season, he has found success going up against the likes of Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, Timofey Mozgov, and Darrell Arthur.

A player that shouldn't be finding success against Denver, but has, is Austin Rivers. Take this note from Oleh over at The Bird Writes:

  • Austin Rivers. In two games against the Nuggets this season, Rivers is averaging 15.0 points, 3.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 three's and 1.0 steals. It'll be curious to watch whether it's merely a small sample size caveat or Austin has figured something out against an opponent.

This is again, one of those odd games. If you are a fan of the NBA draft and think the Nuggets could do well to finish the season poorly, you're rooting for a loss tonight. The Nuggets could move up (or down) two spots in the draft with an L tonight as they'd tally 43 losses ... which would push them past the Pelicans and tie them with the Knicks for the 10th selection.

If you're a basketball fan and want to see the team improve, you hope Faried can find some success against Davis and look forward to seeing this match-up a lot in the future. Faried has played well in two games against the Pelicans, he's averaging 17 points and 11.5 rebounds against them.

Let's see how Denver handles Davis and the Birds tonight.