The New Orleans Pelicans dismantled the Toronto Raptors last night even though they were missing both CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram.
Zion Williamson broke the Raptors defense, and the Pelicans got contributions from many places, as they have all season.
It’s been a next man up mentality, and it’s been someone different almost every night for New Orleans, which is why they’ve been able to go 13-8 even though their starting five has only played together 10 times.
With two veteran players out of the starting five, it’s been the young players who have stepped up, whether it is Herb Jones winning games with defense and smart plays, Jose Alvarado becoming a bigger part of the offense, Trey Murphy III knocking down shots or Dyson Daniels doing a little of everything.
This is a deep and dangerous team and they showed last night why the New Orleans Pelicans are set up better than any franchise in the NBA to compete now and well into the future.
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson is a future MVP candidate
But it wasn’t just Zion’s 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting that was impressive, as he had one of his best all-around games as a professional last night, adding 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks, dominating on both ends of the floor.
It’s his defensive improvement this season that is most important, as that is the biggest factor holding him back from being a legit MVP candidate. He’s clearly putting in more effort on that end and when he gets into the open floor it’s over.
Obviously staying healthy is going to be key, but we tend to forget that this guy is only 22-years-old and still has a lot of room to improve, which should terrify the rest of the NBA.
Dominant franchises need an MVP-caliber player and the New Orleans Pelicans have one in Zion Williamson.