Pelicans: The possibility of play-in games is good for young players

Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have a losing record, are in 11th place in the Western Conference and are battling myriad injuries.

The thing is, they are not dead yet.

The Pelicans’ slim chances have been kept alive by the play-in tournament, which will give the 9th and 10th seeded teams a potential back door into the playoffs.

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It is a long shot at this point for the Pels to even make the play-in games, much less the actual playoffs, but those of us hoping the Pelicans’ young players would get to play some meaningful games this season are getting our wish.

The Pels will probably fall short but even the possibility gives them a reason to keep playing hard and makes these remaining games have more of a playoff atmosphere, as each win or loss will be big.

We wanted to see Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and the rest of the Pelicans’ young guys play in pressure-filled games to get those reps, and even if they don’t ultimately make it, these games are still meaningful and will provide some of that pressure.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans’ chances at the playoffs

The Pelicans are three games behind the Warriors for the final play-in spot, which seems like a longshot with only 13 games to go. The Pels have ultimately been done in by a lack of execution and an inability to hold leads, which are problems you might expect from such a young team.

FiveThirtyEight gives the Pelicans just an 11 percent chance of making the playoffs, which seems about right.

However, they still have one game left against the Spurs, one of the teams they are chasing for the 10th spot and three against the Warriors, the team directly in front of them.

“So you’re saying there’s a chance?” Sure. One in a million is still a chance but even if the Pels come up short, those games against the Spurs and Warriors will be pressure filled and have a playoff-type atmosphere, which is all we can hope for at this point as the Pels need to get smarter and those reps will help.

The Pelicans chances are rapidly slipping away, but this season should still provide some meaningful games for the young players, which is what you want out of a rebuilding season.

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