The New Orleans Pelicans have started the season 6-14. This is not a good look for a team that looked promising at the beginning of the year. The western conference is filled with a lot of solid teams, and the Pelicans have fallen to the bottom of the pack through the first quarter of the season, standing 14th in the conference. Before the season started I went as far as to say that the Pels could be in the playoffs this year. Guess who was wrong. The season is still young, and with the 8-14 seeds in the west being decided by 3 games right now, a turnaround and playoff push for New Orleans is possible. They just haven’t shown it yet this year, and it might take them a little bit to get their young core to be competitive in the NBA.
I’m not ignorant to the fact that we haven’t seen Zion Williamson yet this season. We have all seen what he can do, and when he’s healthy he is presumed to be a big piece of the Pelicans team right away. It’s unclear the type of Zion we get when he comes back. How will he do jumping right in to mid-season NBA basketball? Will he be the same star we all expect, or will he fall down the injury plagued route and never be the same? We’re gonna have to wait and see what happens with Zion.
The rest of the team on paper looks better than what their record shows. Jrue Holiday seems like he can still be a pretty good player, and a high level defender. He hasn’t been great so far this year, and the other veterans aren’t capable of leading a competing team. JJ Redick and Derrick Favors are solid pieces, but these guys performing alone isn’t enough to turn the ship around.
Within all of the New Orleans darkness, Brandon Ingram has been one to shine bright. Averaging 25.5 points through his first 16 games played, B.I. has been a pleasant surprise to the NBA now that he has emerged from his time as a Laker, where he was never really able to get going as a young stud in this league. Ingram could get a big payday from another team this offseason, so the good thing the Pelicans have going for them might not even be there next year. The lack of winning could be due to younger guys needing more time. Lonzo Ball is yet to be the Lonzo Ball that his father promised the whole world. Maybe he’ll get there but he is certainly not there right now. Josh Hart has shown he can be solid off the bench, but the chances are low that he will ever be a focal point in New Orleans, or on any team. Rookies like Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes still need time to develop, but they have the potential to be valuable assets for the Pelicans down the line.
It can’t be easy bouncing back after trading away Anthony Davis. It seems like the Pelicans are making do with what they have, hoping their guys can develop in to high level talent. This team is still young, and we haven’t seen Zion, but it is not looking good for the New Orleans Pelicans. Maybe their youth will explode and they can make a push for the playoffs.