McCollum, Ingram Forming Intriguing Star Duo For Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans, CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

There has been a lot of chatter around the NBA recently involving the New Orleans Pelicans and Zion Williamson. None of it has been overly positive, as Williamson’s dedication to the organization has been questioned and it has been noted that Williamson and his camp do not trust the Pelicans’ front office.

All of this pestering could be because Williamson’s family has been angling for him to leave New Orleans essentially since they selected him first overall in 2019. He remains sidelined with a foot injury that has kept him sidelined the entire 2021-22 season, derailing whatever playoff aspirations the Pelicans had.

While many people focus on his future with the franchise, players are trying to change the culture of the team and win games now. The Pelicans had a disastrous start to the season, going 1-12 out of the gate and reaching as many as 14 games below the .500 mark.

A big reason for that is the absence of Williamson, who is key to their success. However, they are starting to figure things out with a new duo in Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum.

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It is a duo that head coach Willie Green is happy to have, as things are beginning to look up for the Pelicans, who are battling to try and qualify for a spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament. They were driving forces in the Pelicans blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the teams ahead of them in the standings, Sunday night.

“Those two guys set the tone for us,” Green said. “When they are playing like that and playing off of each other and making the simple plays, it’s beautiful basketball to watch.”

Brandon Ingram is always lost in the shuffle when people discuss the Pelicans but is an All-Star in his own right. Only 24-years old, the team could build around him as easily as Williamson with the big difference being Ingram isn’t always sidelined.CJ McCollum was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers, along with Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell, and the team has performed well since then.

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While a 3-3 record isn’t usually something to get excited about, when you have the record theNew Orleans Pelicans do and take into consideration the opponents, it is an impressive feat. New Orleans has hosted the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks before heading on the road to face the Phoenix Suns and Lakers.

They lost to the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Mavericks, defeating the Raptors, Suns, and Lakers. The performance against Los Angeles was an especially impressive one, taking home a 123-95 victory.

“It’s always fun when everybody’s involved on the offensive and defensive end,” Ingram said. “We were just out there having fun, laughing, and playing the game the right way. Everybody contributed in a big way tonight.”

The Lakers had no answer for the Pelicans, asBrandon Ingram, who spent the first three seasons of his career in Los Angeles, scored 19 points with eight assists and five rebounds. McCollum scored a team-high 22 points with five rebounds and eight assists of his own.

CJ McCollum has taken well to his new team and is excited about what is being built in New Orleans.

“They’ve accepted me with open arms,” McCollum said of New Orleans. “The food is tremendous, the people are great, and we’re putting together some winning basketball and winning culture with Willie.”

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TheNew Orleans Pelicans currently hold the 10th spot in the Western Conference, which is the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. They are six games behind the LA Clippers for 8th place and double elimination and trail the Lakers by 2.5 games for homecourt in the 9/10 single-elimination matchup. 

Given how well they have looked, it would not surprise anyone if they earned homecourt for that game and pushed the Clippers for eighth place.