Although New Orleans still has two seeding games remaining on its 2019-20 schedule, with the Pelicans mathematically eliminated from play-in round contention, the focus after Tuesday’s shootaround shifted to looking back on this season, as well as looking ahead to the future. It was a roller-coaster kind of season for New Orleans, which started 7-23, got hot during a 21-13 stretch, then experienced frustration during the NBA’s restart, dropping four of its first six games.
Asked specifically how New Orleans can become a more consistent team in ’20-21, forward Brandon Ingram said, “What we just went through is going to make us more consistent. Experience. The experience with each other every single day. Going through mood swings, going through ups and downs, sometimes winning games, sometimes losing games just because of (lack of) experience and us being young. I think we’ll all take that into next year.”
“It was adventurous, for sure,” guard Jrue Holiday said of the season. “There were some ups and downs. There were times where it got kind of hectic, with Zion (Williamson) getting hurt in the beginning, a 13-game losing streak. I got hurt for a while. But all in all, we ended up being in position to make the playoffs, something we wanted to do, one of our goals. Then the pandemic hit. Back in the bubble (now in Orlando), it’s been an adventure for sure.”
Other notes from shootaround, as the Pelicans prepare for an 8 p.m. Central matchup vs. Sacramento, playing without Ingram (knee), Holiday (elbow) or Williamson (knee), who are sidelined for precautionary reasons:
Ingram on his reaction to being a finalist for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award: “When I saw it, (it meant) that all of my work has been showing. People are seeing my work I put in and it’s been showing on the basketball floor. I thank God for every blessing. If I win it or I don’t, it’s more motivation for me to become the best player I can be.” …
The game vs. Sacramento tonight could feature a much greater chunk of minutes for young Pelicans such as Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Frank Jackson. Holiday on NOLA’s contingent of new and newish pros: “(They have) a lot of talent, a lot of confidence. Still kind of getting used to this league. Definitely in a weird year – nobody’s ever dealt with this before, and you don’t know what’s going to happen in the foreseeable future – I felt like the talent on this team and the chemistry, the character these guys has been awesome, and it’s been really fun to play.” …
Holiday on the Pelicans going forward: “The future looks bright. (There is) some very, very good young talent. I think just building chemistry and continuing to do that is going to be great for us. If we can keep this team together, I feel like that would be a benefit for us. I think starting off so young, having a good mixture of vets and young guys, going through what we went through this year, with the ups and downs and things we had to fight through, I felt like built character. It built up a lot of players and gave them the chance to know that we can be really, really good, if we stay serious and continue to do what we’re doing.”