The New Orleans Pelicans have, at least on paper, one of the most talented rosters in the NBA for the 2020-21 season. Despite having a handful of All-Stars and a seasoned coach, the Pelicans failed to make the NBA Playoffs and will have a lot to work on in the NBA off-season of 2021.
Last season, Zion Williamson was the New Orleans Pelicans’ brightest spot, as he made the All-Star Game for the first time in his career and had a fantastic sophomore season.
Of course, he concluded the season with a finger injury, but the New Orleans Pelicans’ biggest concern is claims that he is dissatisfied with the team’s current status.
In the NBA off-season of 2021, the New Orleans Pelicans must focus on three areas.
The franchise did not require a 31-41 record for the 2020-21 NBA season, and next year must be a strong one if Williamson is to stay in New Orleans.
We’ll look at the areas where the New Orleans Pelicans need to improve during the NBA off-season in 2021 in this post.
Let’s get started without further ado.
3 Look for a coach who has the ability to turn things around.
Stan Van Gundy coaching the New Orleans Pelicans in 2021.
This is a major problem for the New Orleans Pelicans right now. Currently, the franchise is without a coach.
Stan Van Gundy’s one-year stay with the team was a failure, as his coaching style is unlikely to appeal to the new generation of NBA players, and the New Orleans Pelicans’ major players are primarily young.
Nonetheless, according to Van Gundy, his decision to step down as coach was based on conflicts with the front office, not difficulties with Zion Williamson or the team’s young core. On the Stupodity podcast, Van Gundy stated that Williamson is not a “coach killer.”
“He’s a man who will assist you in winning a lot of games. He knows how to play the game properly. One of the things I’ll miss is not being able to coach him any more. He’s one-of-a-kind in terms of how he plays the game and the things he can accomplish. As a coach, it really gets your wheels turning, and you have a lot of options for what you can do with him. Exploring that was a lot of fun. I’m pleased with what we accomplished with Zion. I believe we were of assistance to him. It would be up to everyone else to decide how they felt about it.”
Van Gundy may not have been the issue in New Orleans, but the squad now sorely needs a coach and faith in his or her ability to perform on the floor. Some names, such as Brooklyn Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn, have already been discussed.
The Pelicans still need to find a coach who can give the team the structure it needs to compete for the NBA Playoffs with the young core it has. Vaughn has reportedly decided to stay in Brooklyn, and the Pelicans still need to find a coach who can give the team the structure it needs to compete for the NBA Playoffs with the young core it has.
Charles Lee of the Milwaukee Bucks and Willie Green of the Phoenix Suns appear to be the front-runners for the Pelicans’ coaching job right now.
#2 The New Orleans Pelicans have to fix their defense
New Orleans Pelicans’ players during a regular-season game.
Apart from the concerns with the front office and coaching changes, there is one fact on the court that needs to be addressed. The Pelicans of New Orleans are a poor defensive squad.
The New Orleans Pelicans were 22nd in Defensive Rating with 113.8 points allowed per 100 possessions in the 2020-21 NBA regular season, despite their offense ranking 12th in Offensive Rating. With 114.9 points per game conceded to opponents, the squad ranks sixth in the league.
The Pelicans were 18th in forcing turnovers on opponents, 15th in steals per game, and 22nd in blocks per game. The defensive end of the basketball floor must be addressed, as the team appeared to lack the effort required on that side of the game last season.
Furthermore, with Lonzo Ball’s likely free agency departure, the New Orleans Pelicans may want a strong perimeter defender to replace him.