New Orleans Pelicans
Had you told the New Orleans Pelicans that they would be right in the thick of the Western Conference standings and within striking distance of a top 4 team at the midway point of the season, they probably take it 10 out of 10 times. The Pelicans have been relatively healthy this season, at least their key players have, and it's paid dividends with where the team is in the standings at this point in the year.
It's been a great start to the season, and the team has been in this position before. The big question is whether the Pelicans will be able to close out the season strong. Last year, the Pelicans flamed out in the second half of the season. If the Pelicans can avoid a major injury between now and the end of the season, you have to like this team's chances to make some noise in a first-round playoff series.
I'm not sure if the Pelicans are ready to win a playoff series, but that's the natural next step for the team. All in all, there's a lot to like about how this season has evolved for New Orleans. Even though they've operated under the radar for much of the year, it's hard to be negative about how this season has played out for the Pelicans.