The New Orleans Pelicans are in a difficult position. After losing DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, the team is struggling to win games despite having Anthony Davis on their roster. Zion Williamson looks like he could be the solution to this problem, but many question if he will have enough maturity at only 19 years old when they become an NBA powerhouse again.
The “pelicans nba” is a question that has been asked many times. The New Orleans Pelicans have struggled for years, but the return of “Point Zion” could stabilize the team.
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ESPN’s Andrew Lopez
The New Orleans Pelicans had an air of optimism going into the 2021-22 season, with Zion Williamson coming off an All-Star season and Brandon Ingram a year away from an All-Star appearance.
Devonte’ Graham and Jonas Valanciunas were added to the Pelicans’ roster. The idea was to find guys who would fit better around the previous first-round choice, who was now the de facto point guard.
However, Williamson’s recuperation from offseason foot surgery has kept him out of the lineup to begin the season. The fresh parts have struggled to complete the jigsaw with a 6-foot-6, 284-pound hole in the Pelicans rotation.
“The most important thing is that we’re pushing them to do more,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said.
Williamson will join a squad that is off to one of the worst starts in franchise history as he nears his season debut. His return will provide some much-needed stability to the youthful core, but the Pelicans are hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Washington Wizards in 2020-21 and become just the fourth club since the ABA/NBA merger to reach the playoffs after opening the season 6-17.
“This season, we haven’t had Z. [We’re] eagerly anticipating his arrival. We need his services “According to Valanciunas. “He’ll be a key attacking and defensive element for us. The game is about to alter dramatically for the better.”
The 6-foot-11 center has been stretching the floor somewhat more than Adams did a year ago, hitting 30 of 58 from three-point range in 23 games, good for a league-best 51.7 percent. Adams attempted three 3-pointers last season, all of which were last-second heaves.
Last season, Graham outperformed Lonzo Ball on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (42.3 percent to 40.2 percent) and was seen as a better match next to Williamson, who was in charge of the offense.
With the first unit, the point guard has had to shoulder more of the scoring load, something the Pelicans may have been able to avoid with four healthy All-Stars.
“Obviously lineups have been shifting, people have been in and out,” Graham said, recognizing the Pelicans’ need to deploy spot lineups this season. “We’ll have a better sense of balance and responsibilities will be more clearly defined. Any team, particularly a young one, is going to suffer when two All-Stars are gone.”
Ingram claims that his offensive role changes just minimally when Williamson is on the court, but he’s seen Valanciunas and Graham appreciate their expanded responsibilities.
Ingram said, “They’ve been taking on more responsibility.” “Devonte’ needs to be in charge of everything we do, ensuring sure we’re all on the same page. Jonas has to communicate on the defensive end since he’s on the backline. We’re asking a lot of him right now to score. He’s getting a lot of playing time. It’s critical to be locked in.”
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is another player whose role has evolved over time. The third-year guard was supposed to be the team’s sixth man this season, but the Pelicans decided to put Alexander-Walker in the starting lineup in Williamson’s absence to provide them a scoring punch.
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Alexander-Walker started the first 18 games of the season, but on Nov. 22 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he reverted to his sixth-man position.
Green was forced to make additional alterations to the starting lineup when Graham missed three games in late November. Starting Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple was one of them.
That coupling didn’t work out, and they only survived one night together.
“We have a score of 3-15. This factored into the decision “After a defeat to the Grizzlies on Nov. 13, the first-year coach noted. “Until we get it perfect, we have to keep tweaking and seeing what works.”
The pressure has been unbearable for a club that is already dealing with more injuries than it did last season. Despite a series of injuries near the conclusion of the season, the Pelicans finished 29th in the league in games missed in 2020-21. According to Spotrac’s club monitoring statistics, they’re already sixth in that category this season, with 62 games missed due to injury.
Williamson’s recovery has been gradual and methodical. The Pelicans aren’t going to hurry him back onto the floor, particularly after he suffered a foot injury. On Friday, he was cleared for full team practices, but no date for his season debut has been scheduled.
Despite the fact that his team has made the most of his absence, they are aware that their season is dependent on his return.
“It’s benefiting everyone; the opportunity, minutes, and game repetitions,” Alexander-Walker said. “Seeing the ground and getting through the difficult periods. There is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.”
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Other players, such as Alexander-Walker as a sixth man and Temple in a reduced position off the bench, have been able to adjust to their new duties as a result.
“I believe if we get people in the positions that the team was formed around, and when you do that, it’ll take time for us to get to know each other in those various roles again playing with BI and Zion,” Temple said.
Despite the fact that Williamson’s comeback is on the horizon, New Orleans is still five games off of a playoff berth. It’s a difficult mountain to climb, but not insurmountable. The Pelicans, on the other hand, rely on Williamson to accomplish so.
“We depend on each other because we know we can’t go into games expecting one individual to score 50 points and carry us to victory,” Green said. “It’s something we’ll have to accomplish as a group.” I’ll keep emphasizing how pleased I am of what this group has accomplished so far. It’s not in our records. That makes none of us pleased.
“However, we are aware that we are constructing.”
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