NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Pelicans, coming off of the All-Star break, are looking to make a strong push into the playoffs.
Currently sitting with a 23-32 overall record and a 12-8 record over the past 20 games, the Pelicans are 5.5 games behind division rival Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th and last spot in the playoffs.
Bolstered by the debut of rookie phenom Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have a 6-5 record since his return as the rookie has impressed many with his per game averages of 22.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and a 57.6 field goal percentage.
The team has also had solid contributions from rookies Niccolo Melli and Jaxson Hayes. Melli, who has emerged as a vital three point shooter, is averaging 6.1 points and a 37.4 three point percentage on the season and 9.2 points over the last five games. Hayes, although raw, has shown improvement over the season averaging 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and one block.
No other player for the Pelicans, however, has had a breakout season like forward Brandon Ingram. Ingram, a first time All-Star, has skyrocketed into a leading role for the Pelicans averaging 24.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and a 40 three point percentage.
The Pelicans will get some help in their push to make the playoffs. According to an analysis from the NBA, the Pelicans have the easiest remaining schedule in the entire league with only nine of their remaining 27 games against teams who have a winning record. In comparison, the Grizzlies have the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA with 16 or their remaining 28 games against teams with a winning record including 16 road games.
The Pelicans play the Portland Trailblazers, who are two spots ahead, tonight in Portland at 9:30pm on ESPN.