New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have borne the weight of immense expectations to be one of the best teams in the league from the moment they drafted Zion Williamson with the first overall pick in 2019. Despite brilliant flashes on the hardwood, their all-star forward hasn't been able to string together a healthy season since setting foot in the NBA.
Though they have some outstanding complementary talent in Brandon Ingram, C.J. McCollum, Jonas Valunciunas, and Trey Murphy III, most of their success hinges on the availability of Zion. New Orleans went 25-28 in games without Zion last season. If the former Duke standout can stay on the court, the Pelicans can reach their potential of being one of the best teams in the West.
Even if New Orleans is healthy, they lack guard depth and struggle with turnovers. McCollum offers stability as a floor general, but Kira Lewis Jr. and Dyson Daniels are finding their footing. Though the Spurs are the youngest team in the NBA, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley have the potential to become one of the best backcourts in the division, which could help them outpace their division rival on the perimeter.