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NBA Preview: Pelicans-Kings matchup offers another opportunity to get better

New Orleans is relying on their youth and so far they haven’t been able to get over the hump

Sacramento Kings v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans currently find themselves in the Western Conference cellar.

They’ve registered a lone victory in eight games.

You know things probably aren’t going well when the Sacramento Kings, who have missed the playoffs 15 years straight, are sitting with two additional wins in the standings.

That’s the Pels’ opponent on this Wednesday, and they’ve already fallen to them on the season, a 113-109 loss last Friday.

The harsh reality is, these Pelicans aren’t good enough to produce victories yet. Not right now. Not with Zion Williamson out indefinitely to start the season — and especially with Brandon Ingram missing the last few games. This has been made abundantly clear because of the strong effort levels, the amount of try-hard out on the court, has been great many more times than not.

Willie Green is leaning heavily on youth that has just entered the league or is being relied upon for nightly contributions for the first time in their careers. The majority have not acclimated well to greater roles. Kira Lewis Jr. doesn’t ooze the necessary confidence yet. Jaxson Hayes has too often resembled the guy witnessed in his rookie campaign. Naji Marshall’s offense has been unplayable. And Nickeil Alexander-Walker, as he said it himself, can’t throw it into the ocean — and it isn’t for a lack of trying.

Trey Murphy III isn’t exempt from a little criticism either. When he’s been open, the 3-pointers have fallen, but NBA defenses know who he is and aren’t letting him have space to do damage. His ball-handling and playmaking skills are too raw right now. He’s honestly having trouble making a positive impact anywhere else out on the court.

The one consistent bright spot has been Herbert Jones. His defensive ability combined with an unrelenting motor have led to instant results. He’s become an integral part of the starting lineup. But as anyone watching last night’s game in Phoenix knows, his availability is likely to be question after his head collided with Jonas Valanciunas’ elbow. Being forced to leave a game with concussion-like symptoms doesn’t bode well for an immediate return. Let’s just hope there’s no long-term effects.

The Pelicans aren’t favored to win this matchup against the Kings. They’re a five-point underdog as of this writing. They’ll probably not be considered betting favorites for quite awhile. Strap in.

For the Pelicans to get back into the win column, they’re going to need several breakthrough performances from players unaccustomed in producing them. The only question is, how long will that process continue to take?

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (1-7) at Sacramento Kings (3-4)

When: November 3, 2021, 9:00 pm

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.