The New Orleans Pelicans are giving the Phoenix Suns all that they can handle in their first-round series in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. New Orleans had to win two games in the NBA Play-In Tournament just to qualify for the postseason field, defeating the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers. They have had that success even without young star Zion Williamson on the court.
That earned them a matchup with the No. 1 seeded Suns, who finished the regular season with the best record in the league at 64-18. They were eight games clear of the Memphis Grizzlies, who finished second in the west and had the second-best record in the league.
The Pelicans have received some incredible production from Brandon Ingram, who has played at an All-Star level once again en route to helping New Orleans to a 2-2 tie in the series thus far.
New Orleans is a lot better than their record would indicate that they are. Since acquiring CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. at the trade deadline from the Portland Trail Blazers, they have looked like a totally different team. Imagine what they would look like if they had Zion Williamson on the floor?
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Williamson has not appeared in a game this season because of a fracture in his foot. But, he has been ramping up his rehab and the Pelicans haven’t announced that he is officially out for the remainder of the season.
In fact, the longer the Pelicans survive in the postseason, the better chance there is that we will see the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on the court this season. According to Will Guillory, Williamson returning should New Orleans advance isn’t out of the question.
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That would be a huge addition to the lineup for the Pelicans if Williamson returned to the court. Even if he is only playing 10-15 minutes per game, he has shown that he can have a big impact in a short period of time.
His camp wants him to get on the court this season and it is certainly encouraging to hear that the Pelicans may now be open to it as well. Williamson returning would give an already confident group even more of a boost.
If they can get past the Suns in the first round, the rest of the Western Conference will be put on notice. Adding Williamson to the mix would make them that much more dangerous of a squad to play against.