Believe it or not, at one point this season, the New Orleans Pelicans had the best record in the Western Conference.
But since then, they have gone through a downward spiral that culminated with their play-in tournament contest on Wednesday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite appearing to have the more talented team, New Orleans fell, 123-118, which means they will not participate in the NBA playoffs this year.
It has certainly been a stunning collapse for a team that many were high on until recently.
The NBA Western Conference standings on December 31st, 2022. Two days before what ended up being the final game of Zion Williamson's season.
BI had also been out for a month at this point & yet the Pelicans were still tied at the top of the West.
Team was a legit threat.
— Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg) April 13, 2023
Early in the season, it seemed like the Pelicans were a lock to make the playoffs, and in fact, some considered them potential championship contenders.
They feature Brandon Ingram, who is one of the NBA’s most gifted one-on-one scorers and played some outstanding basketball after the All-Star break, as well as CJ McCollum, a deadly shooting guard who has been masquerading as a point guard for them.
Of course, Zion Williamson is New Orleans’ centerpiece, but therein lies perhaps their biggest problem, as he has been unable to stay healthy so far in his career.
He has been out since early January due to a hamstring ailment, and he has appeared in only 114 games in his four pro seasons.
When Williamson has been healthy, he has torched teams with his 25.8 points per game career scoring average and his incredible accuracy of 60.5 percent from the field, but those moments have been few and far between due to his injury problems.
A healthy Pelicans team should be able to win one or two playoff series, but will we ever see them healthy for most or all of an entire season?NEXT: Former NBA Player Calls Out Zion Williamson For Absence