New Orleans Pelicans: The Southwest Division is for the taking this year

The New Orleans Pelicans have a leadership problem. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Pelicans have a leadership problem. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Pelicans have a good chance to win dominate the Southwest Division for the first time since 2008

The New Orleans Pelicans suffered a crushing defeat last night, there’s no doubt about it, but rather than dwell on the ramifications of that loss, I want to focus on something positive.

Yes, this year’s NBA season is still in its early stages, but the Pelicans are in a position to do something they haven’t done since 2008. That would be winning the NBA’s Southwest Division.

Now look, we all know that division titles mean squat in the NBA, holding much less value than they do in other leagues, but if the Pelicans win the division, it’ll help them achieve greater goals. By winning the Southwest, the Pelicans would undoubtedly be in play for the playoffs, and could even get home-court advantage for around.

So, why am I so optimistic about the Pelicans’ chances to take home a crown that has eluded them for 13 years? Let’s check it out!

The New Orleans Pelicans are starting the season better than they have in years past

Part of my optimism has to do with the Pelicans’ performance starting the season. Simply put, they’ve been more impressive than I thought they’d be, even if their offense is currently nowhere to be found.

Mainly, it’s the Pelicans defense that has been so stellar. This team is playing defense like they never have before, and there’s just no denying it. According to the NBA’s statistics page, the Pelicans currently 4th in the league in defensive rating. A huge leap from the 21st defense from last season.

That rating leap is because the team is holding their opponents to the third-fewest points per game on only 44 percent shooting. Mainly though, it’s a testament to this team’s talent.

The Pelicans have Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson who are more mature and playing some of the best two-way basketball in the league right now. Running alongside them, they have two stellar additions in Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. Factor in the coaching talent of Stan Van Gundy and this team has mounted a massive turnaround.

Sure, the offense still isn’t there yet, and there are concerns about the Pelicans rotation but the team’s top-flight talent is getting the job done. Case in point, Brandon Ingram’s MVP-like numbers to start the season.

Now let’s look at the other sign of encouragement for me, which is the rest of the Southwest Divison.