Media Day marks the start of the 2023 NBA season for all 30 franchises, but the New Orleans Pelicans have a lot to prove this coming season.
The message, top to bottom, was that 2022 didn’t go the way this team wanted it to, but there’s something special coming from the group that was first in the Western Conference before it lost its stars to injury.
HEALTH IS KEY
The New Orleans Pelicans have struggled with injuries over the last couple of seasons, with the trio of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum playing just 10 games together last season. When this group was healthy, it was obvious they could contend, as they were the first seed in the Western Conference on January 4th. So to address the health issues this franchise has faced, New Orleans has hired Amy Atmore as the Director of Rehabilitation and uses her extensive background in physical therapy to shore up those injury issues and keep players on the court.
BIG 3 ISSUES
Just like I mentioned above, the New Orleans Pelicans have had their fair share of injury issues. Their core superstars, Williamson, Ingram, and McCollum, haven’t played much together in the year and a half since the organization acquired McCollum in a trade from Portland.
A great place to start? Zion investing in his body.
“CJ (McCollum) and Brandon (Ingram) throughout their careers have always employed people on their own, that takes care of their body that takes care of their nutrition,” Griffin said. “They’re doing two-a-days when they practice with us, they’ll be working with their own people at night. And they’re really vested in and invested in their profession. This was the first summer where we’ve seen Zion really take his profession seriously like that, and invested off the court on his own in a way that I think is meaningful.”
“I don’t want too much to be made about being in our gym. I want it to be that he found a level of commitment that was important because that’s really significant. If you look at all of the best players in this league, they all make it a focal point in their lives to invest in keeping their bodies healthy and keeping themselves in peak condition. And I think we have three guys in our big three that are now doing that which is extremely encouraging.”
YOUNG TALENT MUST EMERGE
The Pelicans are loaded with younger talent for the 2023 season and they’ll need it to produce. EJ Liddell and newly drafted rookie Jordan Hawkins will get the opportunity to become integral pieces to the organization along with Williamson, Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy, and others. Mixing that young talent with the veteran presence of McCollum, Ingram, Cody Zeller, and Larry Nance Jr. creates a great balance for the roster that the Pelicans certainly hope will be successful.
The Pelicans begin practice tomorrow with their first preseason contest on October 10 against the Orlando Magic. Willie Green’s team will open their 2023 season on October 25 against the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis.