The New Orleans Pelicans dropped their fifth loss in a row on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, moving to 6-14 through 20 games.
The New Orleans Pelicans have not lived up to expectations thus far this season. But to be fair, the expectations that were placed on this Pelicans team were likely too high to begin with.
This is such an exciting time to be a Pelican fan. Despite trading the team’s franchise player in Anthony Davis, the Pelicans actually looked to be in a better situation for long-term success. They received three solid young players and a lot of draft capital, that they then flipped into more draft capital, out of Davis.
Not only that, but the Pelicans also got lucky and received the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, subsequently landing Zion Williamson in the process. Throw in two solid new veterans in J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors and the existing skillset of Jrue Holiday and it was very easy to get excited about this season.
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Zion has not yet played this year and Favors has missed a large chunk of time, which is a big contributor to the Pelicans owning a 6-14 record after a fourth of the season. The team has become criminally undersized, especially when Jahlil Okafor was out.
However, that is only part of the equation as the Pelicans have shown us their true identity for the 2019 season. And quite frankly, it is not something that we should be surprised with in the slightest. In hindsight, while they have the talent to be a playoff team, we should have realized the hurdles that the Pelicans must overcome.
This is a young team. Even with the veteran presence of Redick, Favors and Holiday, this is a young team. What do young teams often do? Lose close games that veteran teams and contending teams do not lose.
And if you look at the Pelicans’ track record this season, they have plenty of these games that have come down to the wire where, if they were more experienced, they would have likely won.
Six of the Pelicans’ 20 losses were by six points or fewer and in each of those games, the Pelicans could have won if they were slightly more efficient in crunch time. Three of the Pelicans’ six wins have been within six points as well, giving them a 3-6 record in these close games.
That is half of the Pelicans’ season thus far and if they were an experienced playoff team then they would probably be at least 6-3 in those games. That would give New Orleans a much more respectable 9-11 record.
Brandon Ingram‘s emergence has been great to watch and there have been some positive signs about the New Orleans Pelicans. But with the positives of the youth come the negatives and perhaps we all jumped the gun when thinking that the Pelicans are ready to make a run when perhaps they are a year away.
But hey, who knows. Maybe the team goes on a big run once Zion returns and finishes closer to .500 than we expect. Regardless, while we are surprised about this slow start, we really shouldn’t be.