NBA

New Look Pelicans Still Struggle Awaiting Zion

The Pelicans made the move of the offseason by sending Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers and in return receiving Ingram, Ball, and Hart as well as a number of unprotected first-round draft picks. The experienced young core paired with rookies Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes were supposed to have the Pelicans built for success, but their sluggish start is showing otherwise. After last night’s heartbreaking loss at home to the Pistons, 105-103 on a Derrick Rose game winner over Jrue Holiday, their record has fallen to 6-18. is suggesting otherwise while they are still waiting for Zion to get back from injury, it is looking like maybe there are other moves to make.

Emerging as the main offensive threat and the real bright spot for the Pels is Brandon Ingram who is averaging about 25 points a game. Returning leader Jrue Holiday has proven a consistent high level of playing with 19.3 points per game and 6.6 assists per game. Another offseason acquisition J.J. Redick has transitioned to this new squad nicely averaging 15.0 points per game.

Even with the new additions of Ingram and Redick panning out, not everybody else on the team is pulling their weight. Lonzo Ball has seemingly struggled to get his offense going thus far this season averaging only 10.6 points per game and is shooting 38% from the field and has not taken the steps to progress his game as fans would have hoped.

They are also struggling getting production from their bigs. Rookie Jaxson Hayes is averaging 9 points per game and has showcased his freakish athletic ability. Outside of his promising play, the rest of the bigs have been struggling. Derrick Favors’ season so far has been plagued by injury leaving Jahlil Okafor, Kenrich Williams, and Nicolo Melli, along with Hayes as the remaining active big men on this team. Not one of these players are averaging double digit points per game or rebounds per game. Right now, the team leader in rebounds per game is Brandon Ingram with 7. They are in the bottom 10 in the league in rebounds per game, paired with awful rim protection and an inability to score are significant contributions to their poor start to the season. Luckily for the Pelicans, Zion Williamson will be returning from injury and be inserted into the rotation to potentially help the Pelicans down low.

However, offense has not quite been the issue for the Pelicans, it is defense. The Pelicans have struggled to adjust defensively without the rim-protecting presence of Anthony Davis and allow the second highest points per game in the league with 119.5 points per game. Defense is not a new issue under the regime of head coach Alvin Gentry. Since Alvin Gentry has stepped into the head coach role replacing Monty Williams, the Pelicans have been lackluster defensively in almost each season he has coached there.

Since Gentry took over for the 2015-16 season, the Pelicans have been 26th, 17th, 29th, 27th, and are currently 29th in points per game in the whole league. The only season they made the playoffs was the 2017-18 season. They went 48-34 and they swept the Blazers then lost to the eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors. Outside of that season the Pelicans have finished 30-52, 34-48, and 33-49. Currently, they are 6-18. General Manager David Griffin has not looked to be shy in making blockbuster moves in his short time in New Orleans, perhaps the next move might be with his coaching staff and not his roster. Either way, something has to give in New Orleans in order for this rebuilding project to work out for the Pelicans.

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