The New Orleans Pelicans are one of the youngest and most exciting teams in the NBA and are going to make history in their first together.
The 2019 season is the start of a new era for the New Orleans Pelicans that have fans arguably more excited than when the team brought in Anthony Davis. It is fitting that this period is coming after trading Davis, as the Pelicans got a slew of young talent and assets alongside the elephant in the room: Zion Williamson.
Not only are the Pelicans young and have established a foundation to contend for the title in a few years but they are also legitimately talented this season. Their young players are already years into their development and Zion is one of the most NBA-ready prospects we have seen.
Making the playoffs as the eighth seed should be the absolute goal for the Pelicans this season and it is not crazy to think that they can do it. The Western Conference is stacked but there is enough room for the Pelicans to slip in at that eighth seed.
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They are going to need strong performances from their young core in order to get there and the team is built to get just that. In fact, the Pelicans are going to get such a strong performance from two of their young players that will accomplish a feat that has been done only four times in NBA history.
The two players in question are Zion and Brandon Ingram. The feat that they will accomplish, as small as it sounds, is that they are both going to average 20 or more points per game this season.
What is significant about this? Only four pairs of teammates that were both under the age of 22 were able to score 20 or more points in the same season.
Juwan Howard and Chris Webber in 1995, Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse in 1996, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in 2010 and Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016. Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury were close to doing it in 1998 but Marbury was traded.
All of those pairings aside from Wiggins and Towns (which is because of Wiggins) consisted of great players. Allen Iverson is a Hall of Famer and Howard, Webber and Stackhouse were all all-star players.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are both MVPs and will go into the Hall of Fame one day as well.
It is interesting that none of these pairings one an NBA Title together, which is concerning. However, that is just more fuel to the New Orleans Pelicans to pave their own legacy and success.
I don’t even think that this is a stretch. Ingram’s scoring has been going up every single season and he finished last year averaging 18.3 points per game. Without the shackles of playing alongside LeBron James, Ingram can easily make a 1.7 point-per-game jump this season.
Zion is probably the harder case to make as he averaged 22.6 points per game at Duke and there is going to be a reasonable dropoff as a professional.
However, what is working in his favor, and in Ingram’s favor, is that the team now has a natural point guard in Lonzo Ball that is going to be facilitating and getting everyone open looks.
Jrue Holiday is a wonderful player and is a huge component for the Pelicans’ success this season and he will definitely get his fair share of scoring as well. However, now he becomes more of an off-ball scorer, whereas before he would be taking the ball up court more often than not, which would have resulted in less scoring for Ingram and Zion.
Zion is going to be on the receiving end of so many pick and rolls and ally oops from Lonzo while Ingram is going to be a mercenary from mid-range and the three-point line.
It’s going to be fun to watch, and while all of the young players are primed for success, it will be Zion and Ingram that make history for the New Orleans Pelicans.