For The Family

NEW ORLEANS – It has been well documented that Pelicans’ triumvirate has not played a game together in 11 months. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum only played 172 minutes together during the 2022-23 season.

Tonight, the Pelicans host the Orlando Magic in their first preseason game of the season. Head coach Willie Green mentioned that the starters will play this evening at 7pm at the Smoothie King Center.

“They’ll have limited minutes. All [starters] will be under 20 minutes.”

Although, the preseason, the minutes on the court tonight are pivotal for the team’s future success, and Coach Green emphasized that sentiment. “The preseason games are important…we get to evaluate some film and to try to build and grow from there.”

He mentioned adding “tweaks” to their current offense with input from assistant coach, James Borrego.

While being the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, the former assistant to Monty Williams’ [Borrego] team was top 10 in pace, while the Pelicans were 16th last year. The Hornets were 16th in 3 pointers attempted, while the Pelicans were 29th.

There seems to be a business-like theme in the Pelicans’ official first week of training camp, starting with media day. The usual jovial Zion Williamson answered questions with a consistent stern look. Short answered, yet with conviction.

The vicissitude of Williamson’s offseason has been notable. He mentioned during the Pelicans’ media session that he will be welcoming his daughter next month. I asked Williamson about how he expects his daughter will change him when she arrives.

“She’s not even here yet, and [she] has already changed me.”

Family. Family is at the cornerstone of this organization. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, David Griffin spoke about building a family at his introductory press conference. He has spoken ad nauseam about building a family in this organization throughout his time here in New Orleans. Preaching loyalty and honesty to players and staff.

On Sunday, the Pelicans hosted their Open Practice. This was an opportunity to showcase to the fans some drills, half court shooting, and a powerful windmill by Zion Williamson.

I saw something more than basketball, speeches, autographs, and the annual glizzy contest. I saw remnants of the word family. Smiles, laughs, daps and hugs with Anita Baker’s Sweet Love playing in the background. Jose Alvarado and CJ McCollum bringing their children on the court and interacting with other players and staff.

It reminds me of a family Sundays at my grandmother’s house. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see playing cards or dominos.

The last couple of years have been a difficult time for players, staff, and the fans. Family is essential to getting through the tough times. This group has stuck together through a multitude of trials. This team doesn’t want to talk about their goals. They want to prove it. Well, the time for talking is no more. The season is here.

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