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Race For The 8th Seed: New Orleans Pelicans Preview

All eyes will be on the Pelicans in Orlando tomorrow. This organization has had so much happen in such a short time. Just last year, the Pelicans picked up Zion Williamson in the draft and traded for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart. The days of Anthony Davis were over. A new era was beginning, but no one could have guessed that they would be this close to making the Playoffs.

This young team is finally healthy in time for the restart. What they lack in experience, they make up for in raw talent. The Grizzlies will have more than one contender coming for their spot in the coming weeks.

New Orleans’ Schedule*

7/30 New Orleans vs. Utah 3:30 PM

8/1 New Orleans @ Los Angeles Clippers 3:00 PM

8/3 New Orleans vs. Memphis 3:30 PM

8/6 New Orleans @ Sacramento 10:30 AM

8/7 New Orleans vs. Washington 5:00 PM

8/9 New Orleans vs. San Antonio 12:00 PM

8/11 New Orleans @ Sacramento 6:00 PM

8/13 New Orleans @ Orlando TBD

*all times are PST

The Pelicans are set to only face three playoff teams in their eight games. This makes up the easiest schedule in the NBA and New Orleans’ number one advantage over the Kings, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers. Their schedule was the 22nd easiest before the shutdown and it remained the same during the reschedule.

New Orleans has four major games coming up: the Memphis game, Spurs game, and the two matchups against the Kings. Winning those four games will be huge for the Pelicans since those teams are all in the same race to either maintain or snatch a position in the West.

Their first two games will likely be the toughest. The Clippers are title contenders and the Jazz are a solid team in the middle of the western conference playoff picture.

Why New Orleans Is The Biggest Threat To Memphis

Memphis has a tough road ahead. They have the sixth hardest schedule while several other teams (namely New Orleans and Sacramento) have less of a climb. The advantage New Orleans holds over Sacramento is their roster.

Zion Williamson has had a massive impact on the overall makeup of the Pelican in only 19 games. With Zion on the floor, the Pelicans are the 8th most efficient offensive team in the NBA. At the start of the season without the former Duke prospect, the Pelicans were 17th in offensive efficiency. His quickness offensively is also impressive. His average time per ball touch is 1.86 seconds which makes him an excellent addition to the Pelicans who are second in the league in pace.

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram both average over 23 PPG as the young leaders of the franchise. Six players, including Ingram and Williamson, average double figures in points. The Pelicans can score well (they are fourth in the league with 116.2 PPG). Their weakness is more on the defensive end.

This young team is 18th in defensive efficiency. That said, the core of Ball, Ingram, Zion, and Holiday is a strong one. This team has more than enough chances to win more than five games. Their biggest focus should be on taking both games against Sacramento to create a deficit. New Orleans is set to kick off the NBA restart tomorrow against the Utah Jazz at 3:30 PST.

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