3 Major Takeaways From the New Orleans Pelicans Media Day
The NBA season is just around the corner as teams have opened up training camps around the league. On Monday the New Orleans Pelicans conducted their media day and I was present for the event.
I waited purposely before I wrote about the event for two reasons, 1. because it was my first media day and I didn't want my opinion clouded by my excitement for being there, and 2. because I wanted to let the dust settle before I jumped the gun on what I am about to tell you. But to say the Pelicans' media day was a success would be an understatement because the organization had one of its best media days of all time(relative to this franchise's history).
So without further adieu let's get into my 3 major takeaways from Pelicans media day.
1. ZION ZION ZION. THE KID LOOKS & SOUNDS INCREDIBLE
There is no better place to start than with Zion Williamson. Since Williamson entered the league fans, media members, and other players all had opinions on his weight, where he should be playing, and his thoughts on New Orleans. Let me be the first to tell you, Zion Williamson, himself put all that to bed.
Williamson started his press conference with all smiles. You could see and feel the happiness radiating from him. Compared to last year's media day where you could tell through the phone screen, tv, or however you were watching that something was off. He started off the conference stating that Griff(David Griffin EVP of basketball operations) has Williamson ecstatic. Probably due to that new contract of his but who really cares?
Williamson then went into detail on how this summer changed his entire career. He went to Fort Lauderdale Florida with his new personal strength and conditioning coach Jasper Bibbs and he stated that that is where he fell back in love with the game of basketball. Williamson credits this offseason with helping him find in his own words "True resolve for the game of basketball". He also stated that something clicked in how he thinks about and approaches the game and his love for it.
He also went on to state how he feels he is faster, stronger, and all around better now than ever before. Pelicans forward Larry Nance stated in his press conference how he has been in Zion's ear and keeps reminding him that he is a 1 of 1 and is a Lambo and you don't give a Lambo regular gas.
To go into this season with a motivated Zion Williamson is a scary thing for the rest of the NBA but an amazing thing for himself, this fan base, and this organization. I do believe that Williamson will be up for comeback player of the year but more importantly, I think he will finish in the top 5 of the MVP voting (I'll get to where I think the Pelicans finish later). This kid is motivated to prove the doubters wrong and I'm excited to see it. He is taking a page out of the Notorious BIG playbook and blocking out the haters and letting his work shine for him.
2. This team understands the expectations placed on them
About a week or so ago I wrote an article about the Pelicans and if they could handle the expectations of the upcoming season. After media day I'm confident that they will be able to. Now that isn't me saying they will win a championship; however, I am not worried anymore about the pressures of expectations.
It starts from the top down and GM Trajan Langdon in his press conference acknowledged the expectations and said that the internal expectations are more important. However, he stated that these guys have a lot to prove. And the entire team echoed that.
Veterans CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram stated multiple times that it's about the work. Block out the outside noise and zero in on the craft and focus on doing proper work and the rest will take care of itself. Hearing two of your most important leaders state that is beyond promising. These guys get it.
They have me buying in and drinking the Koolaid. Because I do believe that the team has the right leadership in place to keep them focused on the task at hand and what is in front of them at the moment. They cant start believing in the hype around them or they will fail. And I believe that they won't do that.
3. This team worked hard in the offseason
My final takeaway is simple, this team really worked hard this summer. Whether it's a story about Herb Jones, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Willy Hernangomez, Trey Murphy, or whoever is on this team, they all worked hard this summer.
This team realizes how close they were last year to advancing to the 2nd round in the playoffs and they don't want to feel the sting of losing again, and they all went out and worked hard. As a fan, you can't ask for anything more from your team than to work hard,
The guys all zeroed in on their own individual weaknesses and worked to improve on those said weaknesses. They also looked at what the team would need from each one of them to make the team win and they worked on that. They gathered together in the offseason to help build chemistry. They put in the WORK.
As the team now begins to practice to get ready for the season they have to focus on their chemistry together. They are adding essentially a new piece in Zion Williamson and a talented rookie in Dyson Daniels. With those two additions, the Pelicans should finish anywhere from 1-6 in the western conference. I expect no less than 6th because the talent is there. However, they must gel, and now is the time for that. But if they do gel properly then the NBA both western and eastern conferences are in trouble!