3 things the Pelicans need to become championship contenders

Apr 16, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks
Apr 16, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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3. A clean bill of health for Zion Williamson

This one is self-explanatory.

When Williamson limped off the court in the Pelicans' first play-in game against the Lakers, their playoff dreams went up in smoke. Williamson is the engine that make the Pelicans go, the straw that stirs their drink, or whatever idiom you choose.

For the Pelicans to make the leap, they need Zion to make it with them.

The second half of the 2023-24 season was the best basketball of Zion Williamson's career. His elite basketball IQ combined with his ridiculous athleticism and basketball skills carried the Pelicans to multiple wins down the stretch. His piece-de-resistance came in the Play-In Tournament before his hamstring failed him.

If Zion Williamson can play 82 games at full health like he played the second half of this season, he's a candidate to win league MVP. In order to contend in the Western Conference, you need players to go shot-for-shot with perennial MVP candidates like Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Nikola Jokic. Zion has that in him. He also has the rare ability to elevate teammates and create open shots as a facilitator as well. When David Griffin overhauls the roster in the coming months, he would do well to shape it around Williamson's image.

Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones are locked in on the wings. Their defensive combined with their elite shooting pair perfectly with Zion. If Griffin nails free agency, the draft, and trade season, all of the pressure falls firmly on the broad shoulders of Zion Williamson to be the final piece of the puzzle to carry the Pelicans to the promised land. He's shown that he has the potential to do it, and next season is the time to deliver on that potential he oozes.