The Pelicans Season May Be Over; However, You Should Be More Excited Than Ever
The Pelicans played the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Playoffs. The Pelicans lost game 6 115-109 in a tough game. The team played extremely hard and just came up short. However, even though the Pelicans are out of the playoffs you should be more excited now as a Pelicans fan than ever before.
This team is in a better situation than ever in its franchise's history. For the first time, there's not just hope but hope combined with youth and people who want to be here. In the past, whether it was the Anthony Davis team or the Chris Paul team, you knew there was doom and gloom to follow. With this team, there isn't that doom and gloom factor. And this all begins with Head Coach Willie Green.
After Game 6 as Coach Green was walking away, you could see the tears in his eyes. This man gave it his all. When you see someone crying after a loss you know it's because they truly cared and Coach Green truly cares. The way he kept this team together through the low points was nothing short of brilliant. Coach Green became a better coach by the end of the year. Going into next season he is easily one of the best coaches in the league, definitely top 10 but not 6-10.
Then after Coach Green, you look to the players. The rookies' Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, and Jose Alvarado received an unmeasurable amount of experience. These guys showed that they wanted to win night in and night out. They all respectively got better. Now in the summer, we need Herb to improve his shooting, Murphy to improve his understanding of defensive rotations, and Alvarado to improve his shooting as well. And I truly believe these guys will do that. These guys have shown that they are cornerstones to this team's future and you have to applaud them for their play this season.
Next, you look to the two most important vets on the team Jonas Valanciunas and CJ McCollum. Valanciunas will come into next season as the third or 4th opinion depending on Zion. But I believe Zion will be healthy and playing so that moves Valanciunas to the 4th option. However to have JV as your 4th option is really good for the team. He is a top 6 center in the league. JV is someone who is a double-double machine and a solid inside defender. He isn't a rim protector however on the block he is a big body and makes it difficult on opposing bigs. His strong suit is on the offensive end and Jonas gives you a center who is an automatic bucket from the post. He also is a black hole when it comes to rebounding. JV allows the Pels to get second chance buckets from offensive rebounds and someone who can push the pace through his defensive rebounding. JV is the perfect center for the Pelicans.
The other vet that is important to this team is CJ McCollum. I've written about McCollum in the past so to not rewrite my past article I will keep it brief. But McCollum means so much to this team. He is the third option than can be the 1st or 2nd depending on the situation and what you need on that given night. McCollum is the perfect lead guard for this team. He can create shots for others, he commands the respect of the other team, he is a 3-level scorer, and he is a leader. During the summer the Pels tried to sign Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry to fill the veteran guard leader role and I'm glad that they didn't sign either of them. Because McCollum fills that role better for the Pelicans than those two would've.
Now the two most important players for the Pelicans are Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Brandon Ingram has grown tremendously. From during the summer inviting the whole team to work out in Phoenix to talking to Willie Green at night because he is watching film and wanted to ask what he should do better to just becoming a better leader. During this run to the playoffs, Ingram became the guy that people always thought he was. He got better at closing in the 4th, his mid-range jumper was deadly, and he became a competent playmaker. If you ask me who was the best player in the 1st round of the NBA playoffs, it is between Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram. Ingram showed this season that he is a franchise player and he is someone that if the Zion relationship sours, you can build around Ingram.
Now to Big Z. The Pelicans will be in a sticky situation with offering him an extension. Not because he doesn't want to be here but because of his health. However, when Zion is healthy, he is easily the best young guy in the NBA. The dude put up Shaq-like numbers when healthy. You add Williamson's skill set to what the Pels built this season and watch out. I still believe in Zion Williamson and I believe he will play for the Pelicans next year. With Williamson and this team fully healthy there is no way they aren't a top 5 seed in the west.
We have to give credit to David Griffin and Trajan Langdon for drafting all of these talented young guys and making the moves to bring in McCollum and Valanciunas. They found the right coach in Willie Green to build the sustained success that Griffin discussed in his initial press conference. You add the amazing staff that the Pelicans have and the rest of the guys on the team and you have a contender. I truly believe that with a healthy Zion next season that the Pelicans are a contender. They have arguably 9 guys that can contribute meaningful minutes. You add that they have the Lakers' top 10 pick in this year's NBA draft and now it is like woah watch out for the Pelicans. Then you have to acknowledge that due to McCollum's championing of the organization free agents will start to want to come here. The vibe around the country is that this team has something special and the world should take notice. As Pelicans fans, our time has come and you should be more excited for this team more than ever before.
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