The Basketball Has Energy
Energy is magnetic. Sir Isaac Newton said, “energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred.” The Pelicans are sharing the basketball, and it’s leading to wins.
During the movie “Space Jam”, the Nerdlucks from outer space stole the basketball abilities of then-NBA stars Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Johnson, and transmitted those abilities through a basketball to the puny Nerdlucks creating the Monstars.
Although fictional, creating stars (or Monstars) through the energy of a basketball is happening today’s NBA.
The New Orleans Pelicans have gone through a Moron Mountain roller coaster when it comes to figuring out how they want to play. Last year, the team was ranked 6th in defensive efficiency, yet didn’t make the playoffs. With a 20th ranked offense, the Pelicans needed a new scheme.
During the off-season, the team welcomed assistant coach James Borrego onto their coaching staff. During Borrego’s time in Charlotte as their head coach, his teams were top-10 in pace, consistently. This season, Borrego initiated a post-practice workout with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to go through pick-and-roll situations between the two. The bayou birds needed Borrego’s input, but this transformation wouldn’t happen overnight. Bugs Bunny wasn’t going to snatch Williamson and Ingram through a golf hole. It takes time, and with this team – time is a construct. It’s not real.
Ingram and Williamson have not had time on the court together to create chemistry. Although, they’ve both have been sidelined by multiple injuries throughout their careers, both are entering their 5th year in the pelican state. In the past week, they passed the century mark of games played together (currently 102).
Just like in Space Jam, there’s a moment when the stars align. Williamson and Ingram are no Michael Jordan (both athletes are signed to Jumpman), but they make an interesting case as a collective, and they are finding their rhythm while on the court together. “The more we’re on the court together, the more our chemistry will build in real time”, Williamson said after the win at the Smoothie King Center on Monday.
In the last 11 days, the Pelicans have defeated the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and Sacramento Kings. Those teams were leading the Western Conference standings. The Pels had a 14-point lead with approximately 5 minutes left before squandering it to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with a 12 assist late-game malfunctioned loss against the Houston Rockets.
With both players having 18-point quarters against the Sacramento Kings on Monday (Zion in the 2nd & BI in the 3rd), these stars are finding their pace. Like Stella, Williamson is looking to get his groove back slithering through defenders while contorting his body to finish at the rim. This is back-to-back games with him scoring 20 points in the 1st half. Ingram finished perfect from behind the 3-point line shooting 5/5. Ingram told me after the Nuggets win, he would be “raising hell” if the 3-ball were to fall. Fans are starting feel the heat under their feet.
The Pelicans finished with 38 assists and captured the win. The team averages 14.1 assists per game which is 16th in the NBA. After the win, Williamson stated, “Nights like this. It’s fun. Everyone touches the ball, and you’re having a great time with people hitting shots.”