Good or bad, being the no.1 pick determines your entire career - just ask Andrew Wiggins. So it’s not often that the careers of number one picks in the NBA fly under the radar. Such is the tale of Zion Williamson’s second season in the NBA, one that was just as good as anybody else’s, but nobody seemed to talk about.
With reports of Zion’s family members' supposed unhappiness with the New Orleans Pelicans organization, questions around the commitment of an organization that failed to build a consistent playoff team around generational talent Anthony Davis have started to surface. With Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Ja Morant making their mark in this year’s playoffs, there seems to be a clear source of frustration from the Williamson family. This also may be the reason why his great performance this season has not been talked about much.
The truth is, everybody loves a winner, and while Zion is a constant feature on the highlight reel, his peers have simply achieved more team success. Normally this is chalked up to the fact that the other teams were better, but it’s worth noting that Zion is the only one playing with another All-Star on the roster if there is talent but no results. That comes down to two things: character and compatibility.
“I've got an unpopular opinion. I saw this with Embiid and Simmons. I wish Zion and Ingram were more compatible. Ofensively and defensively. The last 5 minutes of the game, Zion's going to be your biggest or your second biggest guy out there. You know what he isn't? A defender in the paint and at the rim. And you know what Brandon Ingram isn't? Physical. ”
Jalen Rose, Jalen and Jacoby Show
Brandon Ingram is a former 2nd overall pick and the main piece acquired by the Pelicans in the Anthony Davis deal. Ingram is a superb talent on the offensive side of the ball and had all the physical tools to be elite defensively as well. Having two all-stars is a luxury in this league, and it’s surprising how the Pelicans have managed to miss the play-in tournament despite all the talent they have. Stan Van Gundy is now gone, but somehow the feeling is that greener pastures are still quite distant. The main concern for the Pelicans, in truth, could very well be their all-star tandem.
Ingram is deadly from anywhere on the floor, while Zion is a force in the paint. The problem lies in how both get their points, primarily off the dribble or in stride going to the basket. Zion showed some promise at the point guard under Van Gundy, but neither is a good enough playmaker to constantly set up the other. Obviously, Zion is the cornerstone that the Pelicans envision building their franchise around.
Still, to do so, there must be some buy-in from Zion, and ironically to build a winning team, trading Ingram is the quickest way to do so. With pressure mounting, the onus is now on David Griffin and the rest of the Pelicans organization to hire a new coach and figure out a way forward that Zion can get excited about. Will they give the duo one chance too many, like the 76ers seemingly did with Embiid and Simmons? We'll find out this summer.
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