The New Orleans Pelicans rank favorably in a bevy of statistical categories. They rank second in the NBA in steals per game. They are tied for fifth in the association in points in the paint per game. They are sixth in the league in defensive rebounding percentage (DRB%). Etc etc.
Unfortunately, they also maintain a high standing in one rather unfavorable category.
Earlier this week, a study conducted by Man Games Lost NBA tweeted out the current (as of January 26th) list of the five teams whose players have missed the most games due to injuries and health and safety protocols.
And you know who was on that list? That’s right. You guessed it, our friends in New Orleans.
As of Sunday, the Pelicans are fifth in the league in games missed by injured players (and those in health and safety protocols). And that placement within the leaderboards has probably only risen after having to go through a whole week of games without All-Star Starter Zion Williamson and rookie Dyson Daniels.
This ranking makes perfect sense when you think about the variety of injuries the Pelicans have had to endure throughout the course of this season.
Until recently, Brandon Ingram was out with a mysterious toe injury. That costs him two months of his season. In total, he’s missed 34 of the Pelicans’ games. The aforementioned Williamson has missed 24 games. Last year’s Second Team All-Rookie recipient Herb Jones has missed 16 games this year. Larry Nance Jr. has missed ten games this year. Daniels has been out for five straight now. The list goes on and on.
The good news here is that this means that the Pelicans’ 26-27 record is not emblematic of who they are as a basketball team.
The last few weeks have been bleak, with the team surrendering ten straight losses. But one shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees. There was a time when New Orleans was considered a dark horse title contender.
As recently as January 3rd (the day after Williamson got injured), the Pelicans were 23-14, touting the third-best record in the Western Conference and the seventh-best record in the entire league.
So yeah, the Pelicans are really good. Maybe even title contender good. They just need to get healthy.