The Pelicans showed great indicators of a young team on the rise this season. The young group looks poised to become a solid unit as they develop, even after the loss of Anthony Davis last offseason.
While the Pelicans finished low in the standings, they had a respectable record of 30-42 for a young team still finding its footing and developing chemistry with one another. There were many highlights to take away from the 2019-20 New Orleans season, with the team set to find itself a playoff contender in the coming years.
A major surprise – and probably the biggest highlight – for the Pelicans was the emergence of Brandon Ingram. Ingram was a key player in sending Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. Ingram turned into a No. 1 option for the Pelicans, averaging career highs across the board. The young star won the NBA most improved player award and became an All-Star in a career-defining year.
His continued development with the team will be crucial for their success.
While Ingram was the star, it would be hard to talk about the Pelicans season without mentioning the debut of Zion Williamson. Rookie Zion played only 24 games and was on limited minutes due to injury concerns, but he still made an impact averaging an impressive stat line for a rookie. Zion averaged 22.5 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game and is living up to his hype.
The Pelicans will need to lean on Zion further if they are to succeed, with a pairing of Ingram and Williamson clearly evident as the future.
This leads to what the Pelicans need to do in order to improve next season. Jrue Holiday’s name comes to mind, as while he is an incredible player, Holiday is on the decline at the age of 32 and does not fit into the plans for success for the squad. Holiday’s contract also has only two years left to run, with a player option that would allow him to opt out and test free agency next offseason.
The Pelicans’ wisest move would be to trade Holiday for a combination of young players and picks to strengthen their future core, with teams such as the Nuggets, Warriors, Heat, Nets and Hawks all interested in trying to add the veteran star to their squads. That should be the main goal of the Pelicans.
With other young talents like Lonzo Ball, Jaxson Hayes and Jahlil Okafor on the team and veterans such as Derrick favours and JJ Redick, New Orleans should focus their offseason in acquiring some young role players or a solid shooting guard to replace Jrue Holiday and fill out their young core ready for the future.