The Pelicans were one of the most hyped teams coming into the season, thanks to their collection of young budding stars and the draft signing of Zion Williamson.
But things haven’t gone as smoothly as many have hoped since Zion got injured before he played his first full game and the rest of the roster were forced to pick up the slack. Immediately, the Pelicans slumped a little bit with inconsistent play and lack of real production from key areas in the team.
Since then, however, the Pelicans have looked better and their young cast of stars are starting to fulfill their potential as potential franchise cornerstones. Not to mention, their superstar player will be back in action very soon.
Here are the reasons why the Pelicans will surprise everybody and make the playoffs this season.
Return Of Zion Williamson
Perhaps most importantly, Zion’s return will mean that the Pelicans have another potential All-Star player join their ranks as they look to climb towards the playoff seeding. Zion is a renowned athlete that dominated the college scene, with spectacular feats of athleticism on both ends of the floor.
Adding Zion to this young Pelicans core will excite fans around the league and improve the play of everyone around him. When he is healthy, it is expected that Zion will be a franchise-changing player, and he even received comparison to LeBron James upon entering the league.
While he is clearly a completely different player to Jams, and the comparison of that magnitude is unfair for him at this stage of his career, Zion might become a legendary figure if he plays at a high level when he returns.
All-Star Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram is an All-Star this season, and there is no other way around it. He has consistently performed on both ends of the floor, and his production is the main reason the Pelicans have held onto hope since Zion’s injury.
Ingram has showcased all the things that many expected of him, including deep range shooting and excellent playmaking. Ingram has also shown improvement in other areas of his game including rebounding and defensive prowess. Right now, he is averaging 25.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.5 three-pointers per game and he is one of the candidates for the 2019-20 Most Improved Award.
With Ingram’s height and length, he has the potential to be a two-way superstar. He is built like Kevin Durant, and he even drew comparisons to him when he was drafted by the Lakers. Even though the Lakers were correct to move Ingram in a package for Anthony Davis, Ingram seems to be on a mission to prove that the Lakers made a mistake.
Lonzo Ball’s Improved Play
Perhaps the main word people hear when Lonzo’s name is brought up is “bust”. But this is simply because his father was such a prominent figure around the league and the media were completely obsessed with everything he said.
Luckily, Lonzo is out of the public eye for a little bit and can enjoy his ascension into a potential game-changing point guard. This season, he is averaging 12.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
The Pelicans have performed very well the past few weeks, and have a legitimate case for making the playoffs with Brandon Ingram as their main All-Star. In 2020, Lonzo Ball is amongst three players (Luka Doncic and LeBron James) with at least 150 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists.
Lonzo has steadily picked up his play, and his passing and court vision is truly something extraordinary. If he continues his level of play, his numbers will start looking better and he will finally gain the respect he deserves.
Lastly, the Pelicans will start to build stronger team chemistry when Zion returns and their cast of players finish a full season. By the end of the regular season, Ingram and Ball will have continued with their elevated play, while guys like Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick will start to feed off the young guys. Most importantly, the team will learn to play alongside young star Zion Williamson and feed off his energy and highlight-reel play.
The Pelicans will gain confidence with Zion’s return and will start to perform better down the stretch. Adding a player like Zion will boost their chances of making the playoffs tremendously since the team now has another scoring option alongside Ingram and another potential fast-break partner for Lonzo Ball. Another full season under the belts of guys like Ball, Ingram, and Hart will also build their confidence playing with each other and the Pelicans will be making a strong push into the post-season very soon.