The New Orleans Pelicans dropped their fifth straight game on Sunday to the Dallas Mavericks, and comments from Zion Williamson have been circulating around the internet. Zion scored 20 points but was a -21 for the game, and the late-game execution between him and All-Star teammate Brandon Ingram has been awkward and clunky. But this is to be expected.
“Last year, we had a team meeting and we brought up some things I can do better, especially with buying into the program,” said Williamson. “Right now, it’s tough. I’m taking a little bit of a back seat right now. Im trusting the process. I’m trying my best to buy in right now.”
Team Is Struggling Because Its Best Players Have Hardly Played Together
Zion is a competitor. When you lose games that you feel you could’ve won and you’re not able to make the impact you want, it’s going to bother any competitor. Add in media availability postgame when you’re still in your feelings and things happen.
The reality is the Pelicans are having trouble because the team lacks continuity. They lack continuity because out of a possible 164 regular-season games over the last two seasons, Zion has played in 29 and Ingram in 100.
It’s impossible to build chemistry on the floor without significant reps. Teams need to go through the fire together and experience the good, bad, and the ugly.
“Last year, I was able to facilitate a lot more,” Williamson said after a loss to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 10. “This year, it’s kind of like taking a back seat a little bit and letting everybody else get in their rhythm and being unselfish.”
The team had to adapt and build a different identity because its best players are not always available.
Zion Needs To Be More Available
By all accounts out of New Orleans, this is the first summer that Zion has taken his offseason work seriously. We’re in year five.
If he’s able to play in at least 65 regular season games and if Ingram is with him for at least 50 of those games, we’ll see improvement and be able to gauge where this team is.
The injury bug in New Orleans hasn’t been limited to the two All-Stars. CJ McCollum, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, and Jose Alvarado are all dealing with injuries and have missed time. In Murphy and Alvarado’s cases they were on the injured list to start the season and have a long road to recovery.
This is life in the NBA.
Zion needs to be all the way in and committed to doing what is necessary to be more available than he has been historically. Once that happens then he and the Pelicans can assess where they stand.