The Pelicans are a Zion Williamson away from contending

The New Orleans Pelicans couldn’t pull off the big upset, but took the Phoenix Suns to game 6 in a competitive end entertaining first-round playoff series.

Considering most of the Pelicans had never seen the playoffs, it was a great learning experience to go toe-to-toe with guys like Chris Paul and Devin Booker on the big stage.

Now that guys like Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III and Jaxson Hayes have gotten a taste of the playoff atmosphere, it is going to be hard to keep them out in the future.

These guys want to come back next season even stronger and take the next step, which is go from a play-in team to a solid playoff team and title contender.

If their playoff performance is any indication, the New Orleans Pelicans might be a Zion Williamson away from making the leap to contender next season.

The New Orleans Pelicans roster with Zion Williamson

The Pelicans lost their six-game series with the Suns by a combined total of nine points. The Pelicans put a little scare in the Suns after game 4, but Phoenix responded behind the veteran brilliance of Chris Paul.

But the Pels were right there in every game, even the ones that had Devin Booker, and you can imagine that a healthy Zion Williamson would have made this a much different series even if the Suns were at full strength for all of it.

Zion was happy and engaged on the bench and there were myriad reports that he was ready to play and might have come back if the Pels had won their first round series. Zion even released a video of himself doing an insane dunk, and did a few in warmups in the playoffs almost as a plea to get back in there.

It didn’t happen, but after missing the entire season, you can bet that Zion Williamson is ready to get back on the court. He should be extra motivated when he does return and I hope that translates to a quality offseason that is overseen by team doctors and trainers to avoid a repeat of  this season.

Zion Williamson should be back, and when you think about adding a 27 point per game force of nature onto a roster that just competed with the NBA’s best regular-season team, it’s a pretty exciting prospect.

Add a top-10 draft pick or another impact trade and you have one of the most stacked teams in the NBA.

  • CJ McCollum/Jose Alvarado
  • Brandon Ingram/Devonte’ Graham
  • Herb Jones/Trey Murphy III
  • Zion Williamson/Larry Nance Jr.
  • Jonas Valanciunas/Jaxson Hayes

And this is before any offseason trades or the addition of a top-10 pick.

Until Zion Williamson comes back healthy and proves he can stay that way, this is all theory, but if he does, this team is going to contend for an NBA title as soon as next season.