While the Pelicans need more leadership from second-year forward Zion Williamson, the team still has no shortage of blame to go around for a poor 5-10 start to the season, William Guillory of The Athletic writes.
New Orleans sports an impress nucleus of Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and others, but the team’s overall fit remains in question. The club has two point guards (Ball and Eric Bledsoe) in its starting group, with another questionable offensive pairing in the frontcourt (Williamson and Steven Adams).
“We’ve just got to compete a little bit harder,” Bledsoe said. “It has nothing to do with talent or anything like that. When the games start to pile up, and your body starts to wear down, that’s when you’ve got to lock in the most.”
The question isn’t whether New Orleans has enough talent, but rather how the team uses its talent and whether a consistent effort will be given on both ends.
Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:
- Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal explores how Grizzlies big man Brandon Clarke has thrived as a starter this season. Clarke, 24, has averaged 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 29.3 minutes in the team’s first 13 games, starting in nine of those contests. “Last year, I would rather be in the sixth man role just because I was more comfortable with that but now I feel like that it’s what the team might need,” Clarke said about receiving a larger role. “If I can step up and be the player that I know I can be, I can come in and help us out with the first five.”
- At least two of the Mavericks‘ players who tested positive for COVID-19 were “pretty sick,” Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. The team received four positive tests, with some of those players recovering quicker than others, according to Townsend.
- Mavericks guard Josh Richardson could return to the lineup this week, Townsend notes in a different tweet. The most likely return order is Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber, Townsend reports, though head coach Rick Carlisle cautioned that everything remains fluid.