Pelicans spiral without All-Star talent

Jeremy Rosen, Sports Editor

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The New Orleans Pelicans are in the middle of their worst stretch of the 2022-23 NBA season. After losing all-star Zion Williamson to a hamstring injury in early January, the Pelicans have looked lost on the court and have tumbled down the standings. The team has a record of 3-12 since Williamson went down, and they have the longest active losing streak in the league at nine straight losses.

In early December, the Pelicans were the top seed of a very competitive Western Conference, and they were on pace for a 54-win season. Now after their tumble, they sit at an even 26-26 record and the 10th seed in the conference and are currently projected to finish with a 43-39 record by 538.

The Pelicans have struggled to make up for the offensive holes left by Williamson and Brandon Ingram, who missed two months of action with a toe injury. Without the team’s two leading scorers, the Pelicans have relied on CJ McCollum to carry the offensive load. McCollum is a great leader and complementary scorer, but he lacks the consistency needed to be the main scoring threat. Ingram returned to play in three of the last four games, but he was clearly still hampered by his injury and struggled to be productive on the floor.

Williamson was playing at an elite level before his hamstring injury, averaging an extremely efficient 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. He was the clear number one option on a very deep Pelicans roster, forcing opponents to completely change their defense to slow him down in the paint. 

Williamson’s on-the-court dominance and highlight plays earned him an All-Star starter selection. This will be his second career All-Star nomination, a great sign for his potential in the league. He will be reevaluated on his hamstring next week, and the team medical staff will determine if Williamson will be healthy enough to play on All-Star Weekend.

Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy III will participate in the Jordan Rising Stars event, the NBA’s annual showcase of young talent. Murphy will also get the chance to show off his athleticism at this year’s NBA Dunk Contest.

The Pelicans will attempt to snap their cold streak on the road against the Dallas Mavericks this Thursday. They will then host four games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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