NEW ORLEAN. (AP) – Zion Williamson has little consolation as to how close the New Orleans Pelicans are to qualifying for the off-season.
If anything, the 20-year-old All-Star has informed the club of the urgency with which he would like New Orleans to approach this off-season.
“Doing the same thing at the same time, expecting a different result, is kind of crazy, so I’m not going to sit here and say we’re close,” Williamson said. “The reality is that it was not very disappointing to participate in the playoffs. But we just had to go in and just get better. That’s just me. “
These comments somewhat contradict the story published by Pelicans basketball CEO David Griffin, who considered his team to be much more competitive than the 31-41 record set by coach Stan Van Gandy at the club in his first season.
The Pelicans have a 14-digit lead, with serious injuries to key players, including Williamson, and two games behind San Antonio in the last game of the Western Conference.
“We were very close,” Griffin said. “In the games we lost, the leaders we scored, we were right there at the end of those games. “Before all the injuries, I think our team really believed that we would get what we wanted, which was to go post-season and become a threat.”
The Pelicans have beaten some of the NBA’s best current teams this season, including Utah, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Milwaukee. For most of his last six games, New Orleans also did not have four starting lineups, including top scorers Williamson (left winger), Brandon Ingram (left ankle), as well as center-back Steven Adams and goalkeeper Lonzo Ball.
They suffered six defeats in those last six games. The tail ended in a season in which 20 losses were scored by eight points or less and four by added time.
Thus, Griffin concluded: “What we are not going to do is overreact – give up the core.”
Griffin reiterated that his immediate goal is to improve the team’s support for Williamson և Ingram.
Williamson, in his second full season, after appearing in just 24 games as a rookie, flourished as a historically effective top scorer who could also handle the ball well for an attack like 27 275. He averaged 27 points per game on 61% of his shots.
Ingram averaged 23.8 points per game.
Although Van Gandy’s first season was unpredictable, Griffin made it clear that he was not going to judge a new team that played with a relatively young team during the epidemic.
The epidemic tightened the schedule, which, along with security protocols, gave Van Gandhi և his staff much less time than usual during the season to carry out his scheme and work individually with the players.
Griffin praised Van Gandy’s vision of “whale-zion”, an attacking scheme that was used more and more throughout the season when Williamson served as the main scorer.
Griffin recalled that in an interview with nine coaching candidates last year, “Stan was the only one who saw a whale in Zion.”
The scheme allowed Williamson to use his explosiveness in the ring in a way that was more difficult for him as a rookie when he was in office.
Now Griffin և Van Gand is talking about the fact that they continue to explore the borders of the moving “whale-Zion”.
“I do not think we have reached the point where he can do that,” he said. “He is a unique talent; it is our duty to develop it.”
Main player decisions
Start-up goalkeeper Lonzo Ball և spare rhythm osh osh Hart will be restricted to free agents, which means the Pelicans can keep them by matching the offers they sign from other clubs. But whether it makes financial sense remains to be seen.
“We feel very, very strong towards those two players,” said Griffin. “We hope they feel the same way about us.”
The ball averaged 14.6 points per game 37 scored 37.8% out of 3 points.
“My shooting started at all levels of the pitch,” said Ball, who showed good chemistry with Williamson during the break, sometimes sending him lobbies off the pitch.
“I think I had a pretty good year,” Ball said. “Obviously I would like to return.”
Hart averaged 9.2 points and eight rebounds, but missed the last 25 games of the season due to a hand injury.
Griffin used the term “arbitrariness” to describe the Pelicans’ ability to add another prominent veteran this off-season. As a potential trading asset, New Orleans has a number of first-round selections in the coming seasons, including two acquired by the Lakers (2022 և 2024 or 2025) within the Anthony Davis trade.
“Maybe our election project will work for us to find another veteran who has more of that winning mess,” Griffin said.
Griffin noted that the club is also in good financial shape, as Williamson and a number of other regulars have new contracts.
“We will be able to be aggressive if there is the right match,” he said. “You would see that we do almost everything.”
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