When the Pelicans got off to a 1-12 start this season, it looked like the team was headed for another lottery finish and some difficult offseason questions. Instead, New Orleans managed to turn things around, earned a playoff berth via the play-in tournament, and gave the NBA-best Suns all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs.
“To get to the playoffs, we continued to believe in ourselves. Continued to get better, believing in this organization,” Brandon Ingram said after Thursday’s Game 6 loss, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic. “New coach. New players. Figuring it out so fast. You don’t think about it in the moment because we just lost, but we definitely came a long way from the beginning of the season.”
As Guillory writes, the first-round loss to Phoenix was a tough one, given how competitive the Pelicans made the series (they were outscored by a total margin of 668-659 across six games). But after laying a strong foundation of young talent, the franchise looks poised to remain competitive and continue improving in the coming years.
There are still some pressing offseason questions facing the Pelicans, with both Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes eligible for rookie scale extensions, but all of the team’s young players are under contract for 2022/23, Guillory notes. And while there has been plenty of speculation about Williamson’s long-term commitment to New Orleans, the team couldn’t have done much more this spring to make him want to be part of the future.
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- The Pelicans wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did this season without the contributions they received from a trio of unheralded rookies, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, who spotlights Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy, and Jose Alvarado. Jones emerged as a legitimate All-Defensive candidate, Murphy knocked down 38.2% of his three-point attempts, and Alvarado provided energy and hustle plays off the bench. All three players are under contract for multiple years going forward.
- In his Pelicans offseason preview, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) examines the big decision the team must make on a potential Williamson extension and points out that veterans like CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. will be extension-eligible this summer as well.
- Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype also looks ahead to the Williamson contract negotiations and the other key roster decisions facing the Pelicans this summer. As Gozlan writes, New Orleans doesn’t have much breathing room below the projected luxury tax line, which will affect the club’s ability to make full use of its mid-level exception.