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New Orleans Pelicans 2022/2023 Season Preview

The Pelicans were able to fight their way through two elimination Play-In games last season en-route to a surprising showing against the #1 seeded Phoenix Suns in last season’s playoffs, and I’m expecting big things from this squad heading into the 2022/2023 season.

What worked for the team in the latter stages of last-season and heading into the playoffs hasn’t been tweaked all that much, and with good reason. The team extended Zion Williamson’s contract and drafted Australian Dyson Daniels out of the G-League with the 8th overall pick, but otherwise the squad that pushed the Suns to 6 games in the opening round remains more or less in the same condition.

The turnaround in fortunes in the second-half of last season for the Pelicans coincided with the trade that brought them CJ McCollum. A score-first guard who has been given the opportunity to display his play-making and leadership skills now he’s out from under Damian Lillard’s shadow, McCollum proved invaluable for a young squad. His calm demeanor and veteran presence helped the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones all elevate their games when it mattered most, which is something the front office will hope can be replicated for a full season going forward.

The Pelicans elevated their play following the acquisition of CJ McCollum (pictured) at the deadline last season, and their momentum should carry over into this season. Credit: Sporting News

The biggest question mark, and potential boom for the Pels, however, is the return of Zion Williamson. After not taking the court for all of last season, Williamson is a potentially game-changing talent that Willie Green will have to integrate back into a team that exceeded expectations last season. From what I saw during the playoffs though, this won’t be an issue as the entire squad appears to have bought into his message and the roles he’s assigned them.

New Orleans have a genuine opportunity this upcoming season to change the perception of the team around the league. All of the pieces are there – a talented back-court veteran is paired with a returning interior force and complimented by multiple above-average peripheral options. There is no reason the Pelicans shouldn’t be aiming for a guaranteed Post-Season berth, even if they end up falling just short.

Ceiling: 6th seed.

Floor: 10th seed.

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