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New Orleans Pelicans
Title track: 77
Fan relations: 44
Stadium experience: 77
Bang for the buck: 34
Change from last year: +41
Let the good times roll, indeed. The Pelicans improved in every single category we track this year, cashing in on citywide optimism with a 160-spot climb across the board. And that's without winning a single game in their first-round playoff series against eventual champion Golden State. New Orleans, we salute you (and your optimism).
Anthony Davis. He's a superstar. He's 22. He's a superstar. He'll be in New Orleans for the foreseeable future, thanks to a five-year, $145 million megacontract signed this offseason. And did we mention he's a superstar? Davis led the league in blocks last season (200) while chipping in the fourth-most points per game (24.4) and eighth-most rebounds per game (10.2). So when the Pelicans locked him in with the richest contract in NBA history, fans were, well, ecstatic. And the franchise has a 37-spot leap in players to show for it.
The only category in which the Pelicans didn't make a double-digit-slot improvement: title track, which, though four spots higher than last year, still comes in at a not too promising No. 77. Sure, New Orleans returned to the playoffs after a three-year absence, but it has made it out of the first round just once in six tries. So its postseason track record is not exactly awe-inspiring. As for the postseason prospects in 2014-15? Well, let's just say life in the Western Conference is never easy. So, yeah, restrained optimism sounds about right.
Not even a modest increase in average ticket price ($30.20) can put a damper on the Pelicans' $54 million Smoothie King Center renovation upgrade. Spanning the course of two years, the arena's modernization overhaul features a party perch in the upper bowl, 16 new loge boxes and a 2,000-square-foot sports lounge. Those efforts have been rewarded with an improving stadium experience score, climbing 19 spots to No. 77.