Zion Williamson has never played a regular-season NBA game but the New Orleans Pelicans are still longing for him to return to action.
After getting a brief taste in the preseason, Pelican fans were forced to wait even longer for Williamson, who needed surgery on his right need that will keep him out of commission for the first 6-8 weeks of the season.
Williamson will return sometime around Christmas time, which seems like an eternity for the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans have not been able to carry the momentum from that hot preseason and have started the 2019 season with a 1-6 record.
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Only two other teams in the league have one win this season, which is not a good sign for the Pelicans, who were playoff hopefuls heading into the year.
There is still a lot of the season left to play but the Pelicans may end up falling too far into a hole that they will never be able to dig themselves out of. This is a team that desperately needs Zion Williamson and will continue to lose games until he returns.
The reason for this logic is the way that the Pelicans are losing. Brandon Ingram has been sensational and has been the Pelicans’ leading scorer and primary life source. Ingram dropped a career-high 40 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday and looked Kevin Durant-esque.
Zion’s injury has opened the door for Ingram to succeed and that has been great, but it still has not been enough to win games. The worst part is that the Pelicans have been in nearly all of these games for most of the game.
Whether it is losing in overtime, trading leads throughout the game or outright blowing a lead, the Pelicans have had a very good chance to win every single game this season.
What they have been missing is that one extra dynamic player that can make things happen down low. With Derrick Favors also being injured, the Pelicans have seemed small at times, although their rebounding and points in the paint have not completely suffered.
Heck, if you look at most of their games, most team stats will be identical. The Pelicans have not been turning the ball over an insane amount and have still been shooting the ball fairly well. The only underlying problem has been the defense, which would be better with Zion on the court.
While we can be optimistic, at some point, a team is who they are. And without Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans may just be a young team that can get close to getting the job done but cannot finish.