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Far-Fetched Friday: Zion Williamson Will Not Make the Playoffs as a New Orleans Pelican
By: Ryan Stein
The New Orleans Pelicans are a team with a lot of intriguing young talent. Headlined by star power forward Zion Williamson, the team also boasts the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes, and Lonzo Ball (Restricted Free Agent.) With that amount of potential, it would be reasonable to assume New Orleans will be making the playoffs in the near future. However, it is my belief that the Pelicans will not only fail to make the playoffs the next couple years, but they won't be a playoff during the entirety of 21-year-old Williamson's tenure with the squad.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the state of basketball in the gumbo capital of the United States.
Owners of a 31-41 record during this past season, the Pelicans were only 2 games back from the 10 seed in the Western Conference. Despite nearly making a play-in game, there's not a ton of wiggle room for the Pelicans to move up in those standings. As things stand now, there are 8 teams that will more than likely be better than New Orleans in the upcoming season. One team not included, the Portland Trail Blazers, will easily be above them if Damian Lillard sticks with the team another year. In that scenario, there is only one spot available to even have a shot at the playoffs.
Among teams that were near/below the Pelicans in the standings, the Spurs and Timberwolves are, barring significant trades, more than likely going to be above the Pelicans in 2021-2022. The Spurs beat out the Pelicans this season for the 10th spot in the West, and the Timberwolves with their three best players healthy had a record above .500, which is quite impressive considering the team was only 23-49 for the year. Those two teams just have a better combination of talent and coaching than New Orleans, which will likely lead to another year of disappointment. As the Pelicans continue to stack up losing seasons, the front office will get desperate.
Trading away Jrue Holiday already set the team back in terms of present competitiveness.
While Ingram and Zion are impressive, all-star caliber players, will they really be enough to make the playoffs by themselves? I think not, and the front office down the line will make a panic trade to keep Zion happy. Teams that are on their heels when trying to appease their star player rarely make the best deals, and there hasn't been any indication from the Pelicans' front office that they will be any different.
While the Pelicans are lucky enough to have Zion under team control for a good part of this decade, don't be surprised when he tries to force his way out of New Orleans as they continue fall short of expectations.
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