Pelicans look for more leadership from Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram

Pelicans look for more leadership from Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) works against Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Source: Chris O'Meara)


While the Pelicans may appear hopeless sometimes, constantly finding new ways to lose games, don’t think that they’re going down without a fight.

In fact, the problem may be that they’re fighting too much. As in, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, their two stars, trying to do too much themselves instead of relying on their teammates. Monday night against the Kings was prime example. Seeing the game slip away, but so desperate to win, they pushed a little too hard.

“There were back-to-back possessions where Brandon tried to get through traffic and turned the ball over, and then Zion took a really, really difficult shot going across the lane,” says head coach Stan Van Gundy. “Back-to-back possessions where there were simple plays to be made that those guys had been making consistently the last three or four games.”

Those mistakes come from a good place, and Van Gundy understands that. That’s why since they’ve returned from their long road trip, he’s watched film specifically with Zion and Ingram after each game. Van Gundy says as the future of the franchise, those two need to learn to play their best together, and learn the best ways to get teammates open. But past that, their defense also needs to improve before they can rise to the level of the NBA’s elite.

“Whether it’s LeBron James and Anthony Davis or Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, or even young guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, that the best teams, their best players are two-way guys,” say Van Gundy.

Ironically though, defense wasn’t the primary factor in their loss to Sacramento. Van Gundy said their pick and roll defense was especially good. But he emphasizes that they need to learn to stick with that high defensive effort even when the shots weren’t falling. When it all comes together, then they may finally start to close out some close games.

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