The New Orleans Pelicans looked like they were going to be a powerhouse in the roaring 20s. With Zion Williamson (the Franchise), Brandon Ingram (the star prototype wing), and Lonzo Ball (the big, transcendent guard), New Orleans seemed to have a big three that would take the NBA by storm. However, New Orleans recently allowed Lonzo Ball to commit a sign-and-trade with Chicago for 4 years, $85 million. Unfortunately, Ball is no longer in New Orleans’s future plans. Will the Pelicans regret letting go of Lonzo Ball? Only the future will determine that.

Zo and the Pels

Lonzo was a part of the young core of the Pelicans that seemed to have a bright future in the NBA. Fans salivated over the epic lobs that the Zo-to-Zion connection generated. Zo and Brandon Ingram had chemistry from their days with the Lakers. It all seemed to be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation showed different results. Even though Brandon Ingram came into his own in NOLA, Ball didn’t have the same experience. Zo grew as a shooter and put up career highs with the Pelicans but, he often looked out of place. However, this can be attributed to a number of factors.

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For one, Ball spent a lot of time playing off-ball as a shooter. And even though Ball averaged career highs shooting from beyond the arc (.375 in 2020, .378 in 2021), it wasn’t his strength. Lonzo is a transcendent passer and floor general. Unfortunately, he had to allow Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Eric Bledsoe, and before Jrue Holiday become decision-makers with the ball. Therefore, we could see glimpses of Ball’s talents, but not the full scale.

Zo’s Departure

Zo didn’t seem to fit in with the Pelicans. Often times he looked like he didn’t want to be there. The Pelicans were looking to trade Lonzo during the All-Star Break as well. They seemed to favor Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr, two guards they drafted. Combine that with having to share a starting backcourt with Eric Bledsoe, it was obvious that Ball wasn’t fitting in New Orleans. Therefore a departure from the crescent city was necessary. The Bulls completed a sign-and-trade for Ball worth 4 years, $85 million in the 2021 off-season. The signing resulted in the end of Lonzo Ball’s tenure with the Pelicans.

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Lonzo Ball averaged career highs in points (14.6), three-point percentage (.378), field goal percentage (.414), free throw percentage (.781), and true shooting percentage (.551) in the 2020-2021 season.

Will the Pelicans Regret Letting Go of Lonzo?

Ball has had a rocky start to his NBA career. Pressure from his loud mouth father (who said he could beat MJ one v one), put him under a microscope constantly. Plus, being drafted by LA, then being traded from LA to New Orleans. He also played with better talent than him at the time that needed the ball to produce (LeBron, Brandon Ingram, Zion Willamson). Therefore, we were teased with glimpses of Ball’s talent, but not the full package. However, Lonzo has been compared to Jason Kidd often. Ball seems to be having a Steve Nash or say a Chancey Billups type of trajectory. Struggle for years, then find a niche and a home. Chicago could be that home. This means that letting Ball go could be a big mistake for the Pelicans in the long run. However, the verdict is still out, only time will tell.

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