Pelicans can win in different ways while fun to watch
Two games, two wins. That is the math for the 2019-2020 New Orleans Pelicans so far.
Yes, the games don’t count but we are counting them anyway. Such is a rebuild.
Some would consider it fool’s gold but based on the way the Pelicans have won games in diametrically opposed fashion, it would be foolish to ignore this team.
In Atlanta, New Orleans bulldozed and ran its way past the Hawks, a team that wants to play the same brand of run and gun basketball. The Pelicans simply did it considerably better.
In Chicago, the Bulls dominated play most of the way, hitting 3’s and looking virtually unstoppable.
Then, the depth of the Pelicans came through.
Starters and front-line players excel in one game while reserves come through in the next.
The one constant has been Zion Williamson.
After opening with a 16 point, seven rebound effort in Atlanta, Williamson followed it up by going 12-of-13 from the field with 29 points in just 27 minutes. He pulled down four rebounds and had four assists and made it look easy most of the night.
He was able to get his shot over taller opponents in the paint, use his ball skills to get to the basket and forced his way to the free throw line for eight attempts. Get used to it. Williamson is the real deal.
Then, New Orleans rallied from a 23-point deficit in the final quarter, outscoring the Bulls 41-18 to pull out the win.
It was all about bench play.
In crunch time, Nickeil Alexander-Walker came through big time. He scored 13 points in 19 minutes and dished out seven assists. The Pelicans were a +/-22 with him on the floor.
Jahlil Okafor had 13 points and three rebounds in 18 minutes, hitting all five of his field goal attempts and the Pelicans were a +/-17 with him playing. Josh Hart had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes and New Orleans gained 22 points when he played.
Frank Jackson had 12 points and three assists in 20 minutes and the Pelicans gained 19 points when he was on the floor.
You know how good Jrue Holiday is. Holiday is one of the most complete guards in the league, in his prime and he is embracing his new-found leadership position with a young team.
Lonzo Ball has ball skills and the ability to see the floor. Derrick Favors is a solid, proven front-line player in the league. Brandon Ingram is long and talented and will be a go-to player in one-on-one situations. JJ Redick is a proven marksman. E’Twaun Moore is a solid bench option. Kenrich Williams and Nicolo Melli can play in the league. Jaxson Hayes has huge upside and did not even log a minute in Chicago.
Unlike with the NFL preseason, the primary players play and see lots of action in the NBA preseason. It is a better barometer of what it is to come, though we cannot and should not attach added importance to “practice” games.
Still, there is one inevitable conclusion to draw from the first two preseason games for the New Orleans NBA entry.
The Pelicans will be fun to watch this season.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…