The Pelicans are Only a Few Steps Away From Becoming a Real Threat

Just look at who they have on their team. A young, promising point guard in Lonzo Ball, a solid shooting guard who has it on both the offensive and defensive sides in Jrue Holiday, a fantastic young player in Brandon Ingram who has a legitimate chance at winning the MIP award, or course, Zion Williamson, and even a solid center who really gets after the boards in Derrick Favors. A lot of their backups are young players who are all filled with potential, and there's J.J. Redick who has the experience to mentor the young players. So how come they're 28-38 and not doing any better in the bubble?

We'll start off with the obvious reason, Zion isn't getting big minutes and Nicolo Melli isn't providing the offense or defense that this team needs. Lonzo thrives when Zion is on the floor, so with him off the floor, he just doesn't provide the same explosion he does on the floor when Zion is in the game. Having Zion on the floor really just changes the whole mentality of the team. They feel they need to play better and just the overall energy level of the team is up when Zion is throwing down dunks and knocking down shots.

The second reason they aren't doing well is because they need a more dominant starting center. Favors is 29 and his stamina level isn't always at its highest. He is a great rebounder, currently averaging 9.8 per game, but his scoring just isn't as high as it should be. He shoots 61.9% from the field, so it's clear he needs to be fed the ball more. Favors is one of those guys who is a solid starting center, not as good as what they would like, but good enough, but coming off the bench he would be great. They currently have the 12th pick in the draft, and even though it might be good to have another center, I don't think that's the way to go just yet. They have two young players in Jaxson Hayes (20) and Jahlil Okafor (24) and it would really be a shame to see all that talent go to waste, there's just no point in acquiring yet another center. If I were them I would draft either a PF or a SF. Like I said, Melli just isn't getting it done. I just don't really think Melli was a good pickup for the Pelicans as this is his first year in the NBA and he's 29. He's played around the world in Italy, but he's just not ready for the NBA yet. With his age, I just don't think there will be enough time to develop his game before he calls it quits.

The Pelicans used the exhibition games to their advantage, as they were able to see the talent in both Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Frank Jackson. Frank Jackson's ability to cut to the basket and finish through contact is very underrated, and when he gets good minutes in the g-league, he can really show that skill of his, averaging 26.8 PPG with 50% shooting and 90% from the three point line. It's good that he can shoot that well from the free throw line because all of the driving he does attracts plenty of fouls, which leaves him to the free throw line. He's yet to be played significant minutes in the NBA yet, but if he keeps improving, I think he will eventually be a very good backup PG, and the Pelicans should use him to his full capability.

One last thing this team needs is to simply play together for a good amount of time. With the injuries this team has had, there's been multiple starting lineups and the real starters haven't gotten a lot of time to really bond on the court together. It's like the Warriors, the whole team was always just linked in. Their chemistry was always on point, and that's what the Pelicans need and can get if they practice and play with each other. This can only happen if they all stay healthy.

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