Pelicans: 3 important numbers for when Zion Williamson returns

Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

Not much has gone right for the New Orleans Pelicans with Zion Williamson on the bench with an injury.

The team is off to a 1-9 start, tied for the worst record in the league, and key players like Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Herb Jones have also missed time with injury.

The Pels are doing their best to stay afloat until they are at full strength, but they are rapidly falling into a hole that may be too deep to dig out of even if Zion Williamson does return soon, which is no guarantee.

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Those of us who always try to stay optimistic are now resigned to looking at things, shrugging our shoulders and saying, “well, at least it can’t get any worse!”

The bright side has been hidden for the 2021-22 season so far, but there are some positive numbers that should bode well for the Pelicans once Zion Williamson finally returns.

The numbers are 45, 56 and 37.

New Orleans Pelicans: Positive signs for Zion Williamson’s return

If the New Orleans Pelicans are going to turn things around once their star returns, they will need competent 3-point shooting, particularly from three guys, and so far, they are getting it.

Brandon Ingram has started the season shooting 45.5 percent from long range, which is a great sign for a guy who needs to do more damage from long range to create space for his star teammate.

Of course, Ingram has only played six games so far, but it’s a good sign that he is confident from long range.

The second number of 56 represents Jonas Valanciunas’ 3-point percentage. Like Ingram, this is on a fairly small sample size of only 16 attempts but it is promising that he is knocking them down. Valanciunas has been the Pels’ best player to start the season, and if he can continue to hit from downtown, the worries about spacing with him and Zion Will disappear.

Josh Hart is shooting 37.5 percent from long range, also a good sign, as I’ve often said that if he can hit close to 40 percent he’ll be a perennial 6th Man of the Year candidate because of his defense and rebounding.

Hart has missed time too, but has played well in the games he’s been in, and if he can continue to shoot closer to 40 percent from 3-point range the Pelicans could have a very dynamic offense once Zion is back.

I wish I had more for you, as I am trying to dig for positivity amidst all of the losing, but all I have is a look to the future, when improved 3-point shooting might actually matter and the Pelicans can finally start winning some games.

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