30 Teams in 30 Days: Pelicans are retooled, healthy Zion Williamson set as a team

Everything was smiling at Zion Williamson and David Griffin in the June extension announcement. Can a healthy Zion amplify the rise of swans?

New Orleans Pelicans

2021-22 record: 36-46

The main additions: Dyson Daniels, AJ Liddell and Carlo Matkovich (Draft 2022)

Key subtractions: no one

Last season: It was a tale of two seasons for the Pelicans, who overcame a horrific start 3-16 and all the grim prospects that followed before overturning the script, finishing strong and reaching the playoffs via Two wins in the Play-In . Championship. They then earned respect in a thorny first-round streak by winning the Phoenix Suns 64 wins in six games. It’s all done Without Zion WilliamsonAnd the Who missed the whole season? Injury to the right foot. Brandon Ingram stood tall and CJ McCollum’s Mid-Season Merchandising He brought in a strong scorer, while a group of struggling young players carved names for themselves.

Summer Summary: The biggest and most encouraging news to emerge from New Orleans this season has been nothing to do with free agency, trade, or the 2022 draft. After months of bizarre cues, whispers, and outlandish speculation, Williamson pledged allegiance to the Pelicans – or perhaps he didn’t want to be the #1 pick In the history of the NBA rejects the rookie Max – by Agree to a five-year extension in Big Easy.

Williamson said all the right things, there were a lot of smiles after he grabbed the pen, and it was all right between the franchise and franchise player. It fed his initial silence on the issue and led to unanswered questions and little possibility that he might be planning an exit strategy. It’s not like swans – Cough Cough Anthony Davis and Chris Paul – Burned in the past, right? Everything is now moot as Paul Bunyan of the NBA is ready to resume what has been, up to this point, a chronically choppy but very bright career.

He has missed 141 games in his three seasons and has mainly existed as a ghost. Whenever there are passing sightings of Williamson on the field, well, that’s another story. The power, the blast, the gentle touch around the edge and an improved shot off the paint make him a top-tier talent, at just 22 years old.

The best thing the Pelicans have ever done in their time in New Orleans is extend the Williamson. The next best thing? They’ve made enough moves to give Williamson a reason to sign the deal. When he sat in street clothes last season, he saw the transformation of a club that started playing with a goal. All credit goes to David Griffin, the club’s executive vice president, who has immunized this team with a host of first-round picks (from Davis and Jrue Holiday deals) and swing deals (to McCollum and Larry Nance) and found some (primarily) uncut gems from Among them are second-placed Herbert Jones and fan favorite Jose Alvarado (no phrasing).

Zion Williamson and New Orleans look ready to compete in the West.

Young coach Willie Green never collapsed after a poor start to last season and shone in the post-season with his decisions, rotation play and strategy.

Well, getting a commitment from Williamson was #1 on the priority list… and so are numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Since the Pelicans did a mid-season multiplayer deal for McCollum in 2021-22, they chose to keep the roster intact to see how the pieces fit alongside a healthy Williamson. Although this does not indicate that the Pelicans were inactive in the off-season.

They used their first-round pick on Daniels (#8 overall) and took Liddell (#41) and Matkovich (#52) as well, proving that New Orleans is stocking up on young players to see who evolves into an asset worth keeping or packaging in a future trade.

Daniels is among the growing number of Australian-born players (for American men who have gone there to play professionally) whose development and potential have allowed them to join the NBA. He is not yet 20 years old until next spring, has a good size (6ft 7ft) and a decent handle. He played with the NBA G League Ignite last season and dropped positive hints.

Liddell starred at Ohio State, the rare player drafted by the NBA to stay three years. When he was young, he averaged 19.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2021-22. Liddell plays bigger than he is (6 feet – 7) and brings the body of an NBA. However, he underwent knee surgery in July after an unfortunate accident in the Las Vegas Summer League and could miss most (if not all) of the 2022-23 season.

In that sense, Liddell will have a soft shoulder to lean on. Williamson knows a thing or two about a career that was started wrongly due to an injury. Throughout it all, the Pelicans were adamant about keeping it — not because they had a lot of options — and lucky for the franchise, the feeling was mutual.

next one: Oklahoma City Thunder | previously: San Antonio Spurs

> 30 teams in 30 days: full schedule

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Sean Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him here you find Archive it here and follow him Twitter.

The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Basketball Association, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.