The New Orleans Pelicans, since drafting Zion Williamson in 2019, have gone 62-90, finishing 13th in the Western Conference in 2020 and 11th in 2021. So far in 2021-22, they’re 1-7, dead last in the entire league.
But every year, TNT and ESPN insist on cramming the Pelicans down our throats, giving them national media exposure and trying to make Zion into the next LeBron James.
It made a measure of sense in Zion’s rookie year. Williamson came into the league with a Hall of Fame ceiling. Everyone loves watching a hotshot rookie, even on a bad team.
But Zion has played in just 85 of New Orleans’ 152 games since he was drafted. He’s sat out all eight games this year with a foot injury. As great as he’s been when he’s been on the floor—29.2 points per 36 minutes for his career and .205 WS/48 last year—scoring zero points per game in 67 games off the floor does your team no favors.
With Zion out, the media’s been forced to shift their narrative during live game coverage to hype up Brandon Ingram.
Ingram is one of the most one-dimensional players in the league. He’s a very poor rebounder for his size and minutes load—his 10.1 rebounding percentage this year is a career-high, and pulling down 5.6 boards a game for his career at 6-foot-8 pigeonholes Ingram as a scorer and nothing else.
As for that scoring, Ingram’s not exactly setting the world on fire. He’s got 25 points per game in the six contests he’s been healthy this year, but he’s doing it on 22.8 attempts from the field. As a jump shooter, Ingram can’t force his way to the line (just 2.7 FTA per game this year and never more than six a game at any point in his career.)
It all adds up to advanced stats that out Ingram as a weak contributor. His career-best for WS/48 is .120. He is posting just .046 this year and has a career mark of .069.
For the Pelicans as a whole, coming into the Suns game, they were 21st offensively and 26th defensively. In the Suns game itself, they turned a 20-point first-half lead into a 112-100 loss, losing the second half 64-41.
New Orleans is on ESPN Friday night. They’re playing at Golden State. While it’s an intriguing game insofar as the Warriors are off to a hot start, it has yet another feeling of being Globetrotters vs. Generals in terms of the chance of it being a competitive game.
There are so many other teams that TNT and ESPN can put on national TV. The Atlanta Hawks travel to Brooklyn to play the Nets on ESPN tomorrow, followed by Hornets at Warriors in a nightcap between teams that are a combined 10-4 so far.
Granted, it’s not like there are a lot of better choices on Friday night—Pacers-Blazers and Hornets-Kings aren’t exactly power matchups for the nightcap. The Pelicans on the West Coast might just be getting attention by default.
But at the same time, anyone who doesn’t have League Pass is stuck watching a garbage fire franchise that hasn’t been good since Chris Paul was still in town.
Stop trying to make the Pelicans happen. It’s not fun watching a trash team play on national television. When they start winning, they can start getting more than one national game a year.