Positives and Negatives of the 2020-2021 Season. Who Stays, Who Goes?

We will go more in depth on our podcast tomorrow, but here is a preview!

Before the season began Did I expect this team to win a playoff series? No.

Did I expect this team to make the play in game? Yes.

Whenever you have a roster that consists of Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, you should be able to make a play in game as a 10 seed, plain and simple. In that regard I am disappointed. Keep in mind, this team was one of the healthiest teams in the league until about 3 weeks ago, so you can’t really point to this team not being healthy like you could in the past.

Was this a normal year? Absolutely not. From jump this year was fucked. There was no summer league, no rookie camp, no team workouts, 2 weeks of “mini camp” ,  5 pre-season basketball games and before you know it, the Pels were tipping off in Tampa Bay to play the Raptors.

Before I get to the negative, I want to start out with some positives.

  1. Jaxson Hayes- From being unplayable the first 2 months of the season to possibly being the starting center of this team next year. Really nice piece moving forward for this franchise and if he adds the 3 ball to his offensive game, the offense becomes close to un-guardable with a spacing 5.
  1. Zion Williamson- He will be the face of this league within 2 years. He is incredible, there is no other way to describe him. Must watch TV every night.
  2. NAW- The kid dropped another 30 burger last night, his 3rd of the season. He has the talent, the handles, the shot is getting better and defensively he is long/quick enough to handle guards. I really like him moving forward. With a full off-season ahead of him, I think he will be the third best scorer on this team next year. (pending if we don’t trade him/ get another all star)
  3. Naji Marshall- David Griffin found a gem. Now this is a guy that will be a perfect bench piece for this unit moving forward, can guard multiple positions and if he can stay around the 38-40% range with his 3 ball, watch out. Also, his energy is unmatched.
  4. Kira Lewis/Didi- I am very high on Kira Lewis. I love his off ball movement, his IQ and his quickness. Is he a starting Point Guard right now? No, but he has show flashes that I really like. He needs to improve on his shooting big time in the off season.
    1. Didi- I like Didi, we have a very small sample size, but I really like him. He will be in the rotation next year just on the sheer fact he can lock anyone up.
  1. Lonzo Ball- Once again, I am a Lonzo Ball guy. Is he worth 20 million? No, but do I think he is a good player? Fuck yes. He has improved every year with his shot, he is a great defender, high IQ guy and a very good passer. The only negative with him is that he can’t break down a defense and get to the rim. I wish he would do it more, but maybe in a few years he will get to that level like what his brother already has. If this was his last game in NOLA, I will truly always root for that kid. His stans are insane, but I have enjoyed them as well so thanks for all the interactions.

Now that the positivity and excuses are out of the way, this team underachieved. If you want to be that guy who says “well, we need to remain patient” I will never get with that. Understand that there is a window with Zion Williamson, and with every passing year you miss the playoffs it gets closer and closer to being shut. We need to win NOW.

Disappointing

  1. Brandon Ingram- Amazing offensive player, but if we want to be a winning franchise, defensively he has to dig in. He has to be a 2 way max guy, plain and simple. He said he wanted to improve his defensive ability in the off season and he didn’t do it. He is a liability on the defensive end, that can’t happen. I love the guy, he is my guy, but he HAS to be better.
  1. Stan Van Gundy- I think he is just a really bad coach. Throws his guys under the bus all the time, offensive scheme is from the 1980’s, in game adjustments never happen and don’t get me started on his late game execution and communication.

I think the offensive scheme is really bad. A lot of “Box Score Watchers” will just point to offensive rating and rankings and say I have no idea what I am talking about. The ONLY reason this offense puts up good numbers is because the Pelicans have 2 incredible shot makers in Ingram and Zion. I think this offense has 0 creativity, the ball movement in the half court lacks and the off-ball movement is nonexistent. (How many Pin down screens did the Pelicans run this year with Zion and B.I.?)

If you don’t believe me, why do you think we struggle so much down the stretch? THEY NEVER GET EASY BASKETS DOWN THE STRETCH. One, because Adams/Bledsoe are on the floor which kills all spacing  and two, teams simply focus in on Ingram/Zion late and live with whoever else is out there shooting contested 3’s. It’s very easy to stop.

  • I will make sure to elaborate more on this topic tomorrow.

SVG was brought in to make this Defense better. That didn’t happen either. The Pelicans were ranked 21st in the league last year and they are ranked 21st in overall defense this year. I think this team has a lot of BAD defenders, so you can’t blame SVG for all the struggles. Bledsoe, Adams, Zion and Ingram are bad. Adams/Zion involved in a PnR is disastrous. Eric Bledsoe is one of the most overrated defenders I have ever seen in my life. Zion improved drastically from the start of the season until he got hurt, but he had nowhere to go but up. The one guy who HAS to be better is Brandon Ingram. You are a max guy, start acting like it.

Now lets get to who I think is staying and who is going. Side note, when I say (possibly traded) I think they are a good piece for a 3rd star.

Zion Willamson: Staying

Brandon Ingram : Staying

Eric Bledsoe: To the moon

Lonzo Ball: Gone (Sign and Trade possible)

Steven Adams: Staying (possibly traded)

Josh Hart: Gone

NAW: Stays

Hayes: Stays (possibly traded)

Naji Marshall: Staying

Didi Louzada: Staying

Billy Hustle: Would love to sign him for cheap, but I think he is Gone

Wes Iwundu: Gone

Kira Lewis: Stays (possibly traded)

Wenyen Gabriel: Stays

James Johnson: Gone

Griffin has to be aggressive this off-season or we will be fighting for the 10th seed again next year. Happy Off-Season! Now go to a bar, restaurant, vacation spot because covid is ending and we all deserve a little break!

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