New Orleans Pelicans: Reasons for the Pelicans to be hopeful

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

I consider myself one of the most optimistic New Orleans Pelicans’ fans, and even I have had trouble keeping hope alive this season.

There is nothing worse as an NBA fan than enduring a long offseason only to have your season go into the toilet before it’s really even had a chance to start.

Such is the case for the New Orleans Pelicans, who have struggled mightily without Zion Williamson, which has fans looking for exits off the bandwagon.

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The Pelicans have played with heart even though they’ve not only been missing their best player, but have also had Brandon Ingram out for an extended period this season.

Hope is in short supply in New Orleans after a 2-14 start, but there are a couple of reasons not to give up on this season just yet.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Pels have been here before

In 2019-20, the Pelicans started 6-22 without the services of Zion Williamson. It was a brutal start to the season, but things all changed When Zion returned in January.

The Pels started winning games, and within a few weeks were within shouting distance of the final playoff spot. The season was ultimately undone by COVID-19 and the Pels imploded in the Orlando bubble, but they’ve shown they can come back in the Western Conference after being in a massive hole.

Let’s hope the hole isn’t quite so deep this season and that the Pels can make a similar run.

The play-in tournament changes everything

Unlike in 2019-20, the New Orleans Pelicans will only have to get to the 10th seed to have a shot at post-season play.

Right now, that spot is held by the OKC Thunder with a 6-8 record. The Thunder are one of the surprise teams of the season, but they still have a losing record, so it’s not like the West is running away from the Pels this season.

Yes, they are five games back of this spot, but there is still a lot of season left to play and I wouldn’t bet on the OKC Thunder keeping up this pace. The Pelicans only have the Spurs, Kings and Timberwolves between them and the 10th spot, so it’s not like they have to chase down the elite of the NBA to make the play-in tournament.

But the New Orleans Pelicans will have to stop blowing big leads and falling apart in the second halves of games, something that has already plagued them this season. The Pelicans have blown three 15-point leads already (which leads the NBA) and have been one of the worst teams in the league in the second half.

I wish I had more to offer in the way of hope, but with Zion Williamson getting closer to returning, there is still time for them to chase down a play-in spot. But the clock is ticking faster with every loss.

Next. 2022 NBA Draft prospects for the Pels to monitor. dark