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New Orleans Pelicans: 4 bold predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season

Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Pelicans

The 2021-22 NBA season marks another chance for the New Orleans Pelicans to move from a rebuilding squad to one with a solid identity. They have the roster and brand new coaching staff to win. Now, it’s just a matter of execution. Here are four bold predictions for the Pelicans in the coming season.

Pelicans Bold Predictions

Zion Williamson will evolve into a point-forward

Much of the discussion around Zion Williamson revolves around his weight. The former first overall pick seems too massive and fans fear that this might cause some lower-body injuries down the line. And so when a seemingly thicker Williamson emerge from the offseason, their fears were multiplied.

Pelicans fans seem to have forgotten what Williamson said earlier this month that new head coach Willie Green intends to turn him into a point forward. According to Williamson, this tweak is a way to simplify the game for himself. By now, the rest of the league know that Williamson cannot be stopped by one man alone. A double or a triple-team is in order. And so the perfect counter to this sort of defense is to become a better passer.

Williamson knows that he’s armed with shooters. Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart will be his usual targets. And of course, who could forget Devonte’ Graham, the Pelicans’ best offseason addition. He’s an explosive scorer who will knock down shots when he’s open. This new addition to Williamson’s game will catch everyone by surprise. It’s difficult to stop Williamson when he decides to bulldoze his way to the ring. What more if he adds a passing game to his arsenal.

Zion Williamson will be a midrange shooter

Another thing that Williamson worked on in the offseason is his midrange game. This is another improvement that makes a lot of sense. Again, Williamson knows that the target on his back is getting bigger and bigger every day. He knows that the day will come when defenses will figure him out. His brute strength may be enough to win the Pelicans regular-season games. But the playoffs, once they get there, will be a different story.

Before defenses get the advantage over him, Williamson is already making his arsenal bigger. He won’t pull out a Ben Simmons and work on his jump shot later on. Williamson is already putting in the work. The 2021-22 NBA season will be the first time Williamson will shoot from midrange at a regular rate for the Pelicans. As such, we should temper our expectations. He will make some. He will also miss some. There might even be times when he shies away from shooting during a bad night. This is all part of the evolution process. As the season progresses, Williamson will gain confidence. And shots will be swishing the net more often than not.

Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson will make the All-Star Team together

All the things mentioned above will turn into votes for Williamson. For the second consecutive year, he’ll be voted into the All-Star Team. The man has a solid fan base not just in New Orleans, but league-wide. It’s no question that he’s at the forefront of his generation. Brandon Ingram, who was named an All-Star in 2020, missed it last season. Interestingly, the new entry of Williamson might have affected his chances.

This season will be different for Ingram. While some fans were saddened by the departure of Lonzo Ball via trade, the Pelicans now have a clearer identity. Their focal point will be Williamson and Ingram. Just like Williamson, Ingram put in some serious work in the offseason. Some have noticed that the Duke standout is a lot bulkier this year. Using this fact, we can predict say that Ingram will be a lot more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor for the Pelicans. Gone are the days when his thin stature proved to be a liability.

The Pelicans will make the playoffs

The improvements in Williamson and Ingram’s game, coupled with the Pelicans’ new additions — both in the roster and coaching staff, will ultimately transform the Pelicans into a playoff team. It’s usually difficult to make it out in the West with all the stacked teams. But this season, with a weaker Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers squad, the road will relatively be smoother for them. The Pelicans have the talent to make it as the seventh or eighth seed in the West. In the play-in tournament, they will show off their mettle. We can’t expect them to make a deep run. They will likely get booted out in the first round. This is an imperative part of their experience, something they’ll look back to as they progress further.