New York Post/AP
The 2018/2019 version of the New Orleans Pelicans finished the season outside of the playoffs, stranded in the Western Conference's 13th-seed, with a win-loss record of 33-49. I would absolutely not be surprised if this year's version of the Pelicans finishes even deeper in the red.
After a tumultuous offseason that resulted in a shocking influx of young talent, bringing in names like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and more, it would seem NBA viewers across the globe have levelled up their expectations of the new-look squad.
However, has anyone bothered to consider if these Pelicans will have any chemistry to draw upon from the get-go? Is there anyone on the roster with the ability to take over or close out games? While the entire NBA landscape has shifted considerably, few teams have been reset to the same startling degree; it is not inconceivable that the rookies on the roster will struggle to play with each other, especially when having to face the crucible that is next year's loaded Western Conference.
This is not an indictment of the talent that is overflowing from the seams of this expertly-collected asset trove. It's more of an observation of the brutality of league circumstances; it will be difficult for New Orleans to achieve similar or improved results without the long-touted benefits of continuity, familiarity, and veteran experience.
New Orleans might (and likely will) rotate through as many as six players under the age of 22 throughout the season; can half of a fringe postseason-calibre rotation really be composed of so many inexperienced young players? The answer, to the chagrin of many Pelicans fans, is likely to be 'no'.
But a season with a win total south of 33 does not spell doom and gloom for the bayou-based franchise. This season, for New Orleans, should not be loaded with competitive expectations; to do so is to basically guarantee self-disappointment. They are too young, too fresh, and the league around them has taken obvious strides as of late.
Rather, the upcoming NBA season will be about getting all of the kids out on the floor together; letting them take their lumps; making a few highlights (looking at you, Zion); and letting the front office make informed decisions regarding the franchise's future based on the talent they put out on the court.