The Pelicans must address this problem (and it’s not Brandon Ingram)

New Orleans will need to do something about one particular issue that does not involve Ingram.
CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans
CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

This past season, the New Orleans Pelicans fell victim to playing in the increasingly competitive Western Conference. Putting together a solid 49-win regular season was not enough to get them out of the first round of the playoffs, where they fell in a four-game sweep to the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

The West has consistently been the better conference for decades on end at this point, but the degree of separation from the Eastern Conference is still a bit staggering. The 47-win Indiana Pacers made the conference finals in the East, while the Pelicans won an additional two games and could not get out of the opening round due to playing a much more difficult matchup.

Part of New Orleans' disappointment this past season can be attributed to having such challenging competition, but their roster construction could use some work as well. Much has been made of Brandon Ingram and his future with the organization, especially considering his less-than-desirable output during the playoffs.

Brandon had a very rough four games against the Thunder, putting up just 14.3 points on 34.5% shooting. It has led many to consider the possibility that this team could be better off without him. But in reality, the Pelicans have a bigger issue than Ingram, and that is CJ McCollum.

CJ McCollum is a bigger problem for the Pelicans than Brandon Ingram

Originally arriving in New Orleans in February 2022, McCollum provided a solid offensive spark from day one for a team sorely missing the offensive contributions of Zion Williamson. CJ helped the Pels reach the first round of the playoffs that year, where they took two games from the Suns before bowing out in the first round.

But they have yet to win a playoff game since that time, and as more seasons pass, the more we are seeing the glaring deficiencies of McCollum on display. Firstly, he technically plays at point guard, but he is not exactly the strongest assist-generator, averaging just 4.6 per game this past season.

Secondly, CJ is undersized. At 6-foot-3, he has notable quickness off the bounce, but that speed does not translate to the defensive end. He frequently gets burned on D, and we have seen that cause problems with his lackluster ability at that end of the floor. His offensive contributions are still noteworthy, but they do not always make up for his shortcomings on defense.

In all, it seems that we should be taking a harder look at McCollum this offseason than we do at Brandon Ingram. By and large, BI has done his part. He may have had a letdown in the playoffs, but that was an exception to his usual solid production at both ends of the court. The Pelicans will need to even more seriously consider where they see CJ McCollum in their future this summer.