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Wizards vs Pelicans preview: John Wall and Anthony Davis return to Kentucky

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The preseason continues as the Washington Wizards travel to Lexington, Kentucky to play the New Orleans Pelicans. Here's what you need to know.


Where and when? Gametime is 7 p.m. and the game will be played at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

How do I watch? You can't, this one isn't airing on Comcast or even NBA TV. The best you can do is listen to it on 1500 AM or find an online feed.

Why should I care? John Wall and Anthony Davis both went to school in Kentucky which should make for some interesting crowd reactions. New Orleans could also be a very tricky nut to crack for Wall due to Davis' mobility and Jrue Holiday's size and lateral quickness.

Are they good? That, my friend, is the million dollar question. The Pelicans won 30 games last year while finishing with the NBA's third worst defense. Nonetheless, management decided to go all in and attempt to start making playoff runs now. After all the smoke had cleared, the team was minus two lottery picks and the surprisingly effective Greivis Vasquez but had picked up All-Star point guard Holiday, former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and sharpshooter Anthony Morrow. If you add them to a roster that already includes Davis, Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers, Al Farouq-Aminu, and Eric Gordon, they look pretty good on paper. At the same time, there's only one ball and Evans, Rivers, Gordon and to a lesser extent Holiday have never been too keen on sharing it, so this could very quickly turn into a train wreck if they don't make adjustments.

Who's out? The Wizards will be missing Emeka Okafor, Chris Singleton and Otto Porter. Gordon made his preseason debut Thursday and should be available, although Jason Smith will still be out for the otherwise healthy Pelicans.

What are they good at? If everything comes together, this team is going to be very good at the drive and kick game. Gordon, Holiday, Anderson and Davis are all excellent catch and shoot players. Meanwhile, Evans, Rivers and Gordon are all very good at beating their man off the dribble. Put two and two together and that tends to lead to a lot of layups and three pointers. Evans' size and physicality could be a difference maker since, of the players who will likely wind up guarding him tonight, only Trevor Ariza has both the size and lateral quickness to match up well with him.

What are they bad at? New Orleans' should be brutalized by big, physical post players this year. Davis is skinny, Anderson isn't very physical, and the only true center on the roster is Greg Stiemsma. That said, there are fewer and fewer big, physical post players every year, so this shouldn't be a big problem on a night in, night out basis and there are some good defenses that have the same problems on paper.

Which was the inferior draft pick: Jan Vesely or Austin Rivers? Rivers was at one point one of the most polarizing prospects in recent draft history. After he shot less than 40% from two point range and made less than 60% of his free throws on the way to putting up a PER of 5.9 (the league average is 15 and guys who fall below 10 either don't touch the ball or are on their way out of the league), I think the edge might actually go to Rivers. Sure, Rivers was very good at getting to the line last year and could conceivably change the way he plays, while Jan still doesn't do anything at an above average level, but at least Vesely knows he's not good and doesn't hijack the offense from time to time.

How good would a team made up entirely of recent Kentucky draft picks be? The lineup would be something along the lines of Wall and Brandon Knight in the backcourt with Eric Bledsoe as the sixth man, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and Patrick Patterson as the forwards, and a center rotation of Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins with Daniel Orton as the insurance policy if either got hurt. Even now, that team would probably win 50 and have an outside shot at the Finals in the West and the ECF in the East, right?

Who's going to win? This is probably going to come down to a battle between the Wizards' small ball attack and the Pelicans' ability to get to the rim and rebound. I'd give the edge to New Orleans tonight. Nene is the best player to take advantage of Davis' lack of strength and it's unlikely he plays major minutes, especially with the game not even airing on television.

What are your predictions for tonight? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll!