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Regardless of tonight’s outcome, the Pelicans outlook on the future is bright

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Who would have thought that the New Orleans Pelicans would be in their position right now? Long before a playoff berth was possible, the Pelicans were a 3-16 team and only hoped to put together a few wins to get back into the winning column. Multiple stories were published on the alleged conflict between star player Zion Williamson and the Pelicans front office. It had gotten to a point where ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins had stated that the team should leave the city.

“It’s time for the Pelicans to relocate,” Perkins said. “I think a city like Seattle, a city like Las Vegas, is more deserving of a basketball team. I played in New Orleans, and they always gonna come second to the New Orleans Saints.”

Despite what was said by Perkins and other members of the national press, Willie Green kept the team focused on saving their season. New Orleans never reached .500 or above it, but they qualified for the play-in tournament and advanced to the actual playoffs. So to say that they are in the situation they are in right now is a huge accomplishment.

When it was announced that the Pelicans would be facing the Phoenix Suns in the first round, many viewed the series as easy work for Phoenix. At most, analysts gave the Pelicans a punchers chance of winning the series against the Suns. So far, the Pelicans have pushed the Suns to a sixth game tonight at the Smoothie King Center.

Regardless of what happens tonight, the Pelicans are now a franchise that has endured a significant culture change. After going through two different head coaches in the past two seasons, New Orleans finally has a guy that has the pulse of the locker room in Green. In only his first stint as a head coach, Green has gained the respect of players who seemed to block out Alvin Gentry and Stan Van Gundy.

Teams usually in the Pelicans’ situation would have given up on the season and tried to position themselves for the upcoming NBA Draft. However, Green would not allow the team to sink to the depths of going through a losing campaign. With the season on the brink of being lost, the Pelicans made the bold decision to acquire guard C.J. McCullum from the Portland Trailblazers along with Larry Nance Jr. The move turned out to be the turning point of the Pelicans’ season. With the presence of McCullum, New Orleans was able to navigate through the numerous ups and downs as they positioned themselves for a play-in tournament berth.

Throughout the series with Phoenix, you have seen how the inexperience shows up for the Pelicans, but in each contest, they have gotten better. Outside McCollum and Jonas Valančiūnas, the Pelicans roster has no playoff experience. However, after tonight, the team has completed a successful campaign even if they are eliminated from postseason contention. The experience of pushing the number one seed in the Western Conference to at least six games shows that the franchise is finally headed in the right direction.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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