New Orleans Pelicans: The Pels are in prime position for a playoff run

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Don’t look now but the New Orleans Pelicans have won four of their last five and are now sniffing the playoffs.

This is mostly because of the play of Zion Williamson, who has been nothing short of spectacular of late.

The 20-year-old is somehow exceeding his lofty expectations and is doing things we’ve rarely seen in the NBA.

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He’s playing like point-guard Shaq and the Pelicans have had the number one offense in the NBA since he took over that role.

Their defense is still awful, but it has been better of late, and I’ve actually won a few bets taking the under on the point total, which is not something I would have expected just a few weeks ago.

The young guys and bench are finally playing better as well. Getting rid of Redick and Melli has been addition by subtraction and has cleared the rotation for the young guys.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker has stepped up since being put in the starting role with Lonzo Ball out, Kira Lewis Jr. has been a spark off the bench and Jaxson Hayes has been much better since returning to the rotation after being benched in favor of Willy Hernangomez.

All of these things have added up to some W’s for the New Orleans Pelicans, who now find themselves back in the playoff hunt.

New Orleans Pelicans: The standings and remaining schedule

The Pelicans have just passed through the most difficult part of their schedule, which I predicted would be the make or break part of the season. 

The Pels were able to win five of the eight, and are now just 1.5 games behind the Warriors for the play-in game in the Western Conference.

They are just three games back of the 8th seed, so the Pels still have a good chance to win a spot, especially given that their schedule gets easier.

Of their 26 remaining games, only 12 of them are against teams that are currently in the playoffs. This could actually be a bad thing since the Pelicans have played better against tougher competition this season but several of the teams remaining on their schedule are actively trying to lose.

If the New Orleans Pelicans can just take care of business against he tankers and win half of the games against the good teams, they should be in a position to at least be in the play-in tournament.

Given how this season started, it would be huge validation to Stan Van Gundy and his young team if they were able to battle their way into the playoffs, even if it is through the play-in tournament.

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