In 5th grade, I placed second in the science fair. My project was based upon potential and kinetic energy. As the judges approached my table, I was able to describe the relationship between the two. With the use of a rubber band, I stretched it with my hands between my finger expressing the potential energy it possessed. As I released, the rubber band shot across the auditorium demonstrating the kinetic energy.
Just like the rubber band, the New Orleans Pelicans, by most NBA accounts, have a ton of potential. David Griffin & the front office have been able to use the pieces around them to construct a roster littered with talent. Drafted Zion Williamson, traded for Brandon Ingram, traded for CJ McCollum, etc. Also, they have hired Willie Green as the head coach for the foreseeable future.
On paper, this team should be a top seed gearing up for a deep playoff run. But the game of basketball isn’t played on paper.
Injuries aside, the Pelicans have some issues that need to be solved to become a sustainable organization
1) As a second-year head coach, Willie Green cannot be expected to know everything. Like players, I believe he has a unique, natural skill in communicating in which I don’t believe can be taught. Surrounding this coach in the off-season with an experienced ex-head coach, a Nate McMillan for example, would be a huge plus for the Pelicans.
2) Building around Zion. The team lacks severely in the shooting department. The Pelicans are currently 24th in made 3s. (This stat takes into the account that Trey Murphy made a career high 9 threes vs the Portland Trailblazers.) The Pelicans are 31st in 3 point attempts. Opposing teams religiously play zone defense because of their lack of shooting. With a team that has Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, & Brandon Ingram generating clean looks – surrounding them with shooting would be a win/win for everyone.
3) The Pelicans need an identity. No matter who is available (or unavailable), the Pelicans must be consistent in who they are. Understanding their strengths and exploiting the other team’s weaknesses. I believe every player on the roster has grown as individuals. You have to credit their individual development to the player development staff. The collective team direction and development seems to be off.
The team has to find out who they are. Unlike last year, teams are prepared for them. They won’t be able to GTA anyone anymore. It’s time for the Pelicans to be released like my science fair rubber band. The Pelicans can no longer survive of potential energy. If you stretch the rubber band too far, eventually, it will pop.
On December 31st, the Pelicans held the number 1 spot in the Western Conference with a 23-13 record. Since, the team is 10-23 dropping to 12th place. It has been a steep nosedive, but the Pelicans have a chance to pull the plane back up.
The bayou birds only sit 2 games out of 6th place with the instability of the Western Conference. Every team is jockeying for position and it is time for the team to make its move.
With 14 games left, I believe the Pelicans season will be decided in the next 5 games. The opponents they’ll face are the Lakers, Rockets (twice), Spurs & Hornets. The next three will be on the road, although, the team has not been very good with a 11-23 road record.
Buckle up, we’re in for a wild interesting trip.