After a dreadful start, the New Orleans Pelicans are on a roll and are proving that when they get to full strength they will be dangerous.
The New Orleans Pelicans had one of the worst starts to the season of any team in the NBA this season. After months of anticipation and praise towards this new, younger team, the Pelicans fell flat out of the gate, losing four games before their first win and at one point they owned a 1-7 record.
Since that 1-7 record, however, the Pelicans have turned it around. The team is now 6-9 after winning three games in a row and going 5-2 in their last seven. Granted, they have gotten some breaks, but a win is a win.
While being battered themselves the Pelicans were saved by playing the Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, all teams that were short players. Heck, even though they beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Paul George‘s season debut, they still did so without Kawhi Leonard playing.
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Regardless, winning basketball games is exactly what this team needed to get out on the right foot and build some momentum before this season became a lost one. And in doing so, the Pelicans have proven to themselves and to the fans that at full strength, they are capable of making the playoffs.
No team is ever 100 percent fully healthy but the Pelicans are without Zion Williamson, Derrick Favors, Jahlik Okafor and Josh Hart right now, all of which play a big role on the team. Zion is obviously the super freak rookie that was meant to lead the Pelicans in scoring and add a dynamic rim finisher that the team does not currently have.
Favors and Okafor, along with Williamson, provide the team with size in the frontcourt. Without all three of them, the Pelicans have been forced to play small and it has had a direct impact on the team being one of the worst defensively in the league.
Hart is the heat-check guy off the bench that is prone for a few big nights here and there. His impact is not as missed as the other three, but it is missed.
Once you add that dynamic of size with the finishing ability of Zion in the paint the Pelicans are going to get even more dynamic offensively while becoming a much better defensive team.
Not only will they benefit from getting healthy, but they will benefit from J.J. Redick and Jrue Holiday overcoming their slow starts to the season to be impact scorers. While their numbers will go down once Zion returns, as long as they are not as bad as they were during that initial stretch, they should be just fine.
And finally, the team has another layer that was not anticipated before the season in Brandon Ingram, who has emerged as the team’s best scorer and one of the best scorers in the league. With Ingram officially taking the next step, the Pelicans will only be better than we expected before the season, which as a fringe playoff team.
With certain teams underperforming thus far and others getting thrown out of the race, such as the Warriors, the door is open for the New Orleans Pelicans to get healthy and make the playoffs.