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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans can only look forward, even if Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee Bucks await

Eastern-leading Bucks lie ahead, but don’t give up on Pelicans youthful talent!

NBA: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

As the noise and rancor surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans continues to escalate, as the passions of the fan base are stirred to the point that the crowd at the Smoothie King Center is asking for blood, and as the questions about the health of young Zion Williamson’s health yield no answers, I offer the words of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith…

You gots to chill.”

Yes, I know you’re frustrated and angry at this point. Who could blame you? It certainly feels like you’ve been down this road before, with hopes of contention for a playoff berth seemingly destroyed before the most wonderful time of the year.

The Pels are flirting with not only a double-digit losing streak, but equaling the longest run of in-season futility in team history on this two-game road trip that begins in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

You care. That’s what makes you fans. When you have a team, you give a part of yourself to it. In return you expect some bare-ass minimums; effort, consistency, and execution.

The Pelicans have failed to accept that charge. For whatever reason, and there are many (injuries, youth, coaching, etc.), they have failed.

That doesn’t make the season a failure.

Though the daily goal is to win the game, the ultimate goal is to be a winning franchise.

And that hope still exists. Good things have happened. The Pelicans look to have filled the gaping hole at small forward with a potential All-Star in Brandon Ingram.

Jaxson Hayes has quickly improved from project to contributor.

Derrick Favors is likely to return and his importance to the success of the team cannot be understated.

And there have been nights when you’ve seen those glimmers of potential that you were sold so heavily on this offseason.

But potential is a dangerous word.

The truth is, struggle was always the more likely outcome. There have only been six teams in the last 20 years that have made the playoffs in the year they had the number one pick in the draft.

It doesn’t make it any easier to do so when Zion Williamson may not see the court for a few more weeks.

So, for now, the struggle continues against the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 21-3 Milwaukee Bucks.

New Orleans dodged a bullet Monday night in limiting Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin to a total of 18 points and 14 rebounds, but Milwaukee presents a far greater challenge. Brandon Ingram will have to avoid early foul trouble and will need help with Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks have also added more pick and roll sets to their offense, something that the Pelicans have had problems defending all season.

Eric Bledsoe is an elite defender and penetrator, and Khris Middleton was an All-Star last season. Add the Lopez brothers and Kyle Korver to the mix, it’s easy to see why the Bucks are a Finals favorite.

So enjoy watching a small market franchise that has been where you’ve been and consider it as the possible future that may await the Pelicans a few years down the road.

The future starts with game 25. Keep looking forward.

Geaux Pels!

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (6-18) at Milwaukee Bucks (21-3)

Where: Fiserv Forum

When: Wednesday, December 11, 2019 8:30 PM CST

How: ESPN, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Wisconsin