When the topic of the most improved team in the NBA came up, the Pelicans were leading the poll and came in 2nd behind the Los Angeles Clippers. With the return of healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers were favorites to be the most improved team with 41% of the vote. The Pelicans were second with 17% of the vote, tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There is a lot of local and national optimism around this team. Minus Zion Williamson last season, who was recovering from a foot injury, this team made the playoffs and took the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns to a hard-fought 6 games in the first round. Zion appears to be in the best shape of his career thanks to his trainer Jasper Bibbs and a conditioning regimen that keeps him performing at peak performance. We’ve all seen a glimpse of that Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls.
Zion returned to action after 500 days away from the field and looked phenomenal. He scored 13 points in 15 minutes and showed no ill rust from his previous injury. Coach Green recently said Zion has looked dominant in the team’s scrums this offseason. Add to that an entire offseason with CJ McCollum, who was acquired before the deadline last year, and Brandon Ingram makes him a team to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. While expectations and recognition are high, the Pelicans know they have to work on the field to prove their place in this league.
On Media Day, I asked Pelicans General Manager Trajan Langdon about the experience of last season that has fueled the team this year. “(Coach) Willie talked about this last year how important it was for these guys to make the Play-In and win it and taste it to use as motivation for this season…… .. It was incredibly important, especially for our young guys to now want to take the next step and go further than before.”
Scroll to continue
One thing is for sure, the Pelicans won’t be sneaking into teams this season. With one of the best Big 3 in the league and a group of hungry and motivated young guys, the Pelicans should do great things this season. GMs and the rest of the league know the Pelicans are made to succeed.
Read more pelican news: