This time is finally here!
After months of the nation discrediting the Memphis Grizzlies’ run this season, while praising an inevitable rise from Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans, we’re finally watching these two teams settle it. Once and for all.
There are so many exciting parts about today’s game, particularly Ja Morant vs. Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday, and Jaren Jackson Jr. and Zion Williamson. To prep for today’s game, I chop it up with Chris Connor from SB Nation’s The Bird Writes.
1) What are your genuine thoughts on the ROTY race?
My genuine thoughts are that Ja Morant deserves the award. While I firmly believe Zion is the better player, health and Ja’s role in leading the Grizzlies, overrules any other candidate.
I don’t think enough people talk about Memphis the way they should, but me even being able to say that has a lot to do with Morant. He’s your rookie of the year.
2) What is Lonzo Ball’s ceiling?
I’ve always thought it was Jason Kidd. Which to some is far fetched, but I don’t see it that way at all.
Zo has the perfect situation and system to fully blossom as he continues to fix and add missing elements to his game. Ball has holes that should have been addressed years ago as a point guard. But similar to Kidd, it sometimes takes a new environment and surroundings for that to become apparent. Some nights in New Orleans you simply see him experimenting with things you didn’t see the previous game.
Kidd was traded in the middle of his third season, struggled with his shot for years, aggressiveness, and several other attributes that would later turn him into a hall of fame point guard.
It took Jason almost five years to fully become the star level player most expected. Lonzo has shown strides this season with different individual goals, that could find him along a similar pattern. Not to mention the talent he’s suiting up with.
I see a plethora of similarities between Ball and Kidd if Lonzo continues to trend towards his ceiling.
3) Do you really think the Pelicans’ championship window is starting now, like what others on the blog believe?
Is the Pelicans title window already opening?— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) July 24, 2020
- Zion Williamson exploded onto the scene and immediately dominated
- Jrue Holiday is GOOD
- Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball improved immensely
- JJ Redick, Josh Hart and Derrick Favors are dependable vets https://t.co/kY89Igc5ch pic.twitter.com/IlY5dFbJVH
No, I don’t. This team has several growing pains to endure, as you’ve seen with the NBA restart. This isn’t the NFL, most championship teams that stay around for years to come, take their lumps.
Not even the greatest of all time can argue that one. The Pelicans are no different, from unit maturity, to individual comfort there are lots of details still being established, and that’s okay.
They’re young, but the core appears aware and in place. Now it’s time for the experience together, and the finishing pieces of the roster to come into place the next few years. They’ll have a championship window, but I don’t believe it’s now.
4) How soon will this be a WCF matchup?
We’ve talked before about how similarly these two teams are built, and the overall seeds for a rivalry. I don’t think it’s going to take much longer before these two teams are fighting for NBA Finals appearances.
I’m looking at 2-3 years. Some of the West top stars are aging, and unless Golden State is able to pull off another heist...we could be looking at a large shift in power soon. Dallas, Denver, and maybe Sacramento should all be in high consideration as well if we fast forward a few years when talking about Western conference hierarchy.
So many things can change, what if Minnesota is able to pull a power move for Devin Booker? Or the Suns finally figure things out? There are tons of variables, but it would truly be a shame if the conversation for best in the west doesn’t start with New Orleans and Memphis.
5) Which matchup are you looking forward to the most?
Two things I love watching are Ja Morant playing offense and Jrue Holiday playing defense. Now I understand Holiday won’t exclusively guard Morant, but we will see it, and it should be fun to watch.
I’m biased because I believe the Pelicans backcourt is a tough matchup for Ja, but we all know he won’t be backing down.
I’m also looking forward to seeing the Pels matchup with Jaren Jackson Jr. There should be some Zion/Jackson possessions, and if there’s a game for Williamson to bring some defense, it’s this one.
Jackson didn’t play the second time these two teams matched up, and didn’t attack the rim enough for my liking in the first one. He may not in this one either, but looked really good against Portland.