Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Valanciunas, Grizzlies

A number of people within the Pelicans‘ organization believe New Orleans would have been a guaranteed playoff team in 2019/20 if Zion Williamson had been healthy all season, writes Will Guillory of The Athletic. As such, it’ll be fascinating to see how the club approaches potential roster changes during the coming offseason.

As Guillory notes, given the strides made by Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball, the Pelicans could be in position to become a legit contender in the West in 2020/21, but it remains to be seen if head of basketball operations David Griffin is ready to get aggressive and go all-in.

Of the Pelicans’ key veterans, Derrick Favors will be a free agent, while Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick will be entering contract years, so running it back with those players is one option, but the club will have flexibility to make more substantial changes to its roster, as Guillory writes.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • As part of his usual Friday column for, Zach Lowe tracks Jonas Valanciunas‘ development from a young prospect who “spoke broken English (and) struggled calling out coverage on defense” to one of the NBA’s most underrated and reliable traditional big men. The Grizzlies‘ center has recorded 14.9 PPG with a career highs in RPG (11.2) and FG% (.586) in just 26.3 MPG this season.
  • Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the role that former Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen has assumed with the franchise. Allen has worked with several Memphis Hustle players in the G League this season, most notably former No. 4 pick Josh Jackson. “I let him know what he’s doing,” Allen said of Jackson. “He takes it in. He’s not one of them guys who get stubborn and doesn’t want to hear it. He takes it. And when he gets the message, it carries over on the execution side in live play.”
  • In case you missed it, earlier this week, we examined where traded 2020 draft picks would land if the NBA season doesn’t resume. Every Southwest team except the Spurs has either traded or acquired 2020 picks.
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7 thoughts on “Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Valanciunas, Grizzlies

  1. JD Candello

    Pels really need to bring in some more some players to defend –

    Reddick looks like an obv move that still can be moved

    Will they try and play super small with Zion at the 4 Ingram at the 4 for long peroids or do they try and bring in a guy like D Howard for the middle?

  2. phillyballers

    Like the makeup of the Pelicans and Griz. Just don’t see it happening during Contract #1 for Ja or Zion. Once the old guard is gone, I think you’ll see them in the Top-4 teams in the West.

  3. x%sure

    NOLA’s not cut out for smallball for long, not like Houston, with muscular guards who are comfortable inside. The Pels should retain Favors to take care of business & let the forwards & Hayes be instinctive. And hope Zion stays healthy and FAs return.

    Yes them & Griz should rise or at least be a priority watch.

    • El Don

      Why would you worry about Zion’s health? Is not like he has a history of been injured all the time, last year he got injured in the super freakish shoe exploding incident!

      • x%sure

        He is always going to be putting unusual force on his ankles & knees, given his weight, explosion, talent, and youthful sense of exuberance and invulnerability… and possibly twisting too, literally.

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