The New Orleans Pelicans have a young superstar in Zion Williamson and we haven’t seen a guy this hyped since LeBron James hit the scene for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
LeBron eventually won a title in Cleveland with a great storyline about the hometown hero who returned to win one for the beleaguered Cavalier fans.
It was a great story, but people tend to forget how LeBron got there, as he first left Cleveland for four seasons before returning after the Cavaliers completely botched his first tenure with the team.
LeBron’s first seven years were a train wreck from a team building perspective and the Cavaliers pretty much gave the New Orleans Pelicans a playbook of what not to do with a young superstar in a small market.
Here are the mistakes the Pelicans need to avoid. Luckily, it looks like David Griffin is catching on fast after starting with some of the same errors in the Zion Williamson era.
The New Orleans Pelicans need to build a team, not a bunch of pieces
Much like LeBron James, the story early on in the national media is when Zion Williamson is going to leave New Orleans.
If Zion says he likes New York style pizza, the Knicks’ fans see this as a sign he is coming to New York, and though it is ridiculous, it’s not going to stop until Zion signs his rookie extension.
One way to ensure this happens is by building a team around Zion Williamson, not just him and a bunch of pieces.
Year after year the Cavaliers did this with LeBron, never giving him much of a supporting cast or putting any other young, talented players around him.
He had no one to grow with and the Cavs roster was shuffled constantly in an attempt to find the right combination of guys. They never really built a “team” in Cleveland and it looked like the Pels were going down the same path with Zion Williamson last season with a team full of guys like J.J. Redick, Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams.
Luckily, the Pelicans already have a second young star in Brandon Ingram and after some savvy roster shuffling, have a much better fitting and younger team around Zion than LeBron James ever had in his first stint in Cleveland.