The New Orleans Pelicans were looked at as a young team that could make some noise this season.
This dynamic duo was the present and future of Pelicans basketball.
Hiring a veteran head coach in Stan Van Gundy seemed like another step in the right direction.
However, the season was not a success.
Other than a tremendous season from Zion, the Pelicans fell flat this season.
The team did not seem like a cohesive bunch, which led them outside of the playoff picture.
How can that happen when you have a generational talent, such as Zion?
Here are a few reasons why the Pelicans struggled this season and missed out on the playoffs.
3. No Defensive Identity
The Pelicans defense this season was a big issue for them throughout the year.
Their difficulty of gaining stops hindered this team within every game.
This led to several blown leads throughout the season.
The Pelicans blew 14 double-digit leads this season. 🤯
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 13, 2021
By the end of this season, the Pelicans finished 24th in opponents points per game, 25th in opponents three-point percentage, and dead last in blocks per game.
Furthermore, they had a defensive rating of 113.8, which was 22nd in the league.
A player, like Eric Bledsoe, was supposed to bring a defensive approach to this young team.
However, the two time All-Defensive team guard was a liability.
The Pelicans had a 5.4 positive difference in their defensive rating with Bledsoe off the court.
Their defense was a major contributor in the downfall of this season.
2. No Spacing
The one knock on Williamson’s game could be his lack of outside shooting.
You might not need outside shooting when you’re a physical specimen with strength and athleticism that is unmatched.
Williamson dominated the paint, but could it have been even more dominant?
The spacing for this team was dreadful.
They finished in the bottom five in the three major three-point shooting categories for teams.
There were lineups consisting of at least three non-shooters on the court at once.
Lonzo Ball has notoriously been known as a streaky shooter, but was their sniper this season.
He and Brandon Ingram were the only Pelicans players that shot better than 35 percent from three.
Steven Adams is a known bruiser in the paint, but can’t stretch the floor out at all.
Adams should not play with a player like Zion, but that is going to be the case for the next two seasons.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 24, 2020
The Pelicans have no spacing and it is going to be a problem for the foreseeable future as well.
1. Stan Van Gundy
When the Pelicans hired Stan Van Gundy, it was a bold move.
Van Gundy’s last outing was not a successful one with the Detroit Pistons.
Some thought that maybe his double duty being the president as well could have hurt his coaching.
Well after this season, Van Gundy might be done as a coach.
From the blown leads, to questionable rotations, the Pelicans were a mess in his first year as the head man.
Now the players have voiced their frustrations about Van Gundy.
Should the New Orleans Pelicans fire head coach Stan Van Gundy?
Reportedly players aren’t huge fans of Van Gundy.
— Off the Glass (@otgbasketball) May 25, 2021
The coach and players have not been able to gel with one another.
This can be the first and only year for Van Gundy in New Orleans.