The New Orleans Pelicans started the preseason off exactly as the team had hoped: with a definitive 133-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
We finally got to see a taste of what this new-look New Orleans Pelicans team is all about. The Pelicans won their preseason opener on Monday night by a score of 133-109 over the Atlanta Hawks.
The preseason should not be taken too seriously, both in a positive manner and in a negative manner, especially when the Pelicans played another young team like the Atlanta Hawks.
However, the preseason is very valuable as it gives us a glimpse into what could be to come in the regular season. This game was especially exciting for obvious reasons, as the Pelicans boast a completely revamped roster that is young and talented.
There were far more positives than negatives in this game and here are the biggest positive takeaways I had coming off of the win.
Lonzo Ball’s jumper looked good
Lonzo Ball only had nine points in the game and shot 3/10 from the field, which might not seem all that great. However, his newly-remodeled jump shot looked far more consistent than it has in the past, which included three makes from beyond the arc in eight attempts.
It was obvious that the Pelicans wanted Ball to work out the kinks at the three-point line and he had some really good looking shots. The best of the night came on a beautiful stepback jumper that was drained and for the first time in his career, looked pretty while he was doing it.
Everything with Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been touted as someone that could far outplay his draft position this season and he showed Pelican fans why in his first preseason game.
Alexander-Walker scored 12 points with two steals in just 15 minutes of action. It is not the box score that we are looking at, though, as his athleticism and playmaking ability really stood out when he was on the court.
My favorite moment of the game is when Alexander-Walker drove to the basket for a layup and in the process faked the behind-the-back pass, completely bating the Hawks’ defender.
The tempo looked great
We have been telling our readers for weeks now to expect a faster-paced basketball game than you are used to seeing and the Pelicans gave us a glimpse of that in this game. All night long the Pelicans pushed the temp like it was a playoff game, which eventually wore down the Hawks.
This team is young and athletic and is going to beat a lot of teams this season simply by outworking and outpacing them. Not only is it effective but it is very fun to watch.
Jahlil Okafor’s offensive boards
Jahlil Okafor looked really good on the offensive glass in this game and is making the case for having a bigger role at the center position than many thought he deserved heading into the season.
Okafor had a whopping five offensive rebounds in 15 minutes of action. If he can continue to do that while also scoring the easy looks that he gets, which he did as he made four of his six attempts, then he absolutely will see his role increase with the team.
Zion Williamson belongs
We all kind of already knew this going forward but there was still a slight concern that the New Orleans Pelicans’ first-overall pick would have some learning curves in his rookie season.
He absolutely can still have just that as preseason games do not technically matter and he was coming up against another very young team in the Hawks. However, there was not a single minute of this game where Zion seemed like he did not belong.
He already has the pose of a professional and everything looked to come easy to him in this game. He wasn’t perfect, but he made six of his 13 attempts with seven boards, three assists and three steals.
That was exactly the kind of start that Zion Williamson needed to his professional career while the New Orleans Pelicans enjoyed the perfect start to the 2019 season.