When the 2019-20 NBA season began, the expectations for the New Orleans Pelicans were hard to place. They had several promising youngsters on the roster alongside veterans like Derrick Favors, JJ Redick, and All-Star Jrue Holiday. They drafted Zion Williamson No. 1 overall and subsequently had a lot of games in primetime.
The season opened on a poor note for them, losing their prized draft selection for several months due to a torn meniscus. And they lost 21 of their first 27 games out of the gate.
Coach Alvin Gentry’s job was likely on the line, and they didn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. The only true bright side for them was the emergence of Brandon Ingram as a star on the team, leading them in scoring on most nights and proving to be their go-to guy in crunch time.
But, as the season developed, Lonzo Ball has grown more and more comfortable. He was benched in favor of Redick early on, but eventually became a guy they can rely on to make threes and dish the ball plus facilitate the offense. He and Ingram’s chemistry from two years with the Lakers was strong, and it has showed.
The third former Laker, Josh Hart, has also been a solid two-way option for them and has started several games.
The Force Of Nature
And then we have Williamson, the prospect who has as much hype surrounding him as any player we have seen in the past decade. He is capable of throwing down the hardest dunks in the league. He can block three-point shots like its nothing.
And he is also 285 pounds. An anomaly in the league, he proved in his NBA debut that he was going to be something special.
Playing on a minutes restriction, he logged four to five minutes in every quarter. In the fourth, as Gentry was preparing to pull him, Williamson knocked down a three. And then another. And after that happened, the sub for Williamson went back to the bench and would have to wait to check in.
Williamson would knock down two more threes in a row without a miss, showing us that he could take any game over. That stretch was the beginning of what has been an impressive 19-game stretch. Zion has averaged 24 points and seven rebounds per game in just 30 minutes a night. And this is after missing the first several months of the year.
Ingram has averaged 24-6-4 while shooting the ball effectively. Lonzo has averaged 12-6-7 while shooting 38% from deep. Jrue Holiday is still giving them 20 points and seven assists a night.
Zion, Ingram and Lonzo are all younger than 23 and have so much potential to be superstars in this league. With all of these guys playing together, the Pelicans are set up for some serious long-term success.
They’ll decide what they want to do with Jrue this summer and try and find a consistent starting center.
Teams playing against New Orleans should be very afraid. When they play their next game, you’ll be reminded by how well they perform.
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