"I'm Trying My Best To Buy In Right Now" - It's Only November But Zion Williamson Sure Sounds Like He May Be The Next Star To Demand A Trade

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The New Orleans Pelicans might be one of the unluckiest NBA teams in recent memory. Every summer you look at their roster and you see all this talent. Often times they're considered one of the deepest teams in the entire league with a good mix of high end talent, good vets, and some interesting young prospects. When they've been healthy, the results certainly matched expectations. You'll remember that before Zion got hurt last year, the Pelicans were one of the better teams in the entire Western Conference.

Enter 2023-24, and so far it's the same story. Tons of talent on the roster, but this team simply cannot stay healthy to save their lives. It's only mid November and we've already seen CJ McCollum have a collapsed lung, Jose Alvarado hasn't played a second with an ankle injury, Trey Murphy III has been out all year with a knee injury, and Herb Jones is dealing with a leg injury at the moment. It's honestly crazy how each and every year the Pelicans find themselves with this unfortunate reality.

As a result, with so many injuries to key guys, the Pelicans are once again paying the price.  After losing last night to the Mavs, the Pelicans now sit in 10th place at 4-6, losers of 5 straight. Of all the top 10 seeds out West, the Pelicans have the worst point differential at a -7.2. Brandon Ingram is off to probably his worst start as a Pelican (shooting 21% from three), and at that point, there's only so much a player like Zion can do. His numbers are down across the board as well despite him being healthy and playing in 8 of their 10 games, and you can tell it's starting to weigh on him

There are some out there that would suggest this is how it starts. That looking at his body language and hearing what he's saying is the foundation for something major to happen down the road. I'll remind you, this is Year 1 of Zion's 5/1987M extension

In terms of his production, Zion is still taking around the same number of shots as he did last year (16.8), and his usage of 30.6% is right in line with what it was last year as well (30.4%). Is that really taking a backseat? Or is this maybe the first instance we have of Zion laying the groundwork for what might be on the horizon should the Pelicans still struggle. 


As we've seen, being early in your extension hasn't stopped players from demanding out before, that's just the nature of the NBA in 2023. 

So much of the talk heading into the season was which big name star was going to be next to demand a trade. Many picked Embiid given the Harden situation, but that's dead. Not only are the Sixers off to a great start, but Embiid finally has a legit running mate in Tyrese Maxey. There's no need for him to demand a trade at this point. 

People then moved on to someone like KAT. The problem there is the Wolves are actually legit as hell and not only that, the KAT/Gobert pairing now looks a billion times better since they brought in Mike Conley to run things. There's certainly no need for them to break things up.

So naturally the focus is going to turn to Zion, especially if the Pelicans keep sliding like this. Watch their games and you can see right away the body language from everyone looks terrible. Once that goes, then the effort starts to go and the losses start to pile up. Once the losses start to pile up, you get the drama. You get the trade rumors. You get the noise. 

While it's not totally their fault that the Basketball Injury Gods seem to have it out for the Pelicans, that doesn't really excuse what we've seen from their two franchise pillars to start the season. Your best player shouldn't be talking about how tough it is to buy in, how does that inspire everyone else to play better? Things like this start at the top for every franchise. 

Does that sound like a player who's ready to take the personal responsibility to snap the Pelicans out of this funk, or does that sound like a guy who's getting closer and closer to demanding a change of scenery? Given how things tend to go when this stuff happens in the NBA, I think we all know the answer to that question.