The New Orleans Pelicans are in the midst of attempting a playoff push, but a new barrier stands in their way: injuries. After winning four of their last 5 games, New Orleans dropped two games against other injury-plagued squads. The Pelicans lost an overtime nail-biter against the Orlando Magic on April 1st followed by a 23 point loss to the Atlanta Hawks the next night. One thing that both of the losses had in common was a lengthy injury report. In the game against Orlando, the Pelicans were missing 3 of their 5 starters. In the Hawks game, 4 of the five starters as well as a key bench player did not play.
Starting Point Guard Lonzo Ball has missed a total of 6 games with a right hip flexor strain. This has made room for sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker to step into the starting role. Ball was listed as questionable for the Magic and Hawks games, but ultimately did not play. Although he did not play, fans are hoping his “questionable” status turns into “probable” soon. Alexander-Walker has far outperformed expectations in Ball’s absence from a scoring perspective, but the young player may still have a lot of things to work out before scoring a starting role.
Another player that has stepped up since Ball’s absence is Eric Bledsoe. The veteran has scored in double digits in each of the last five games, per NBA.com, and he will look to continue this stretch moving forward.
Who to play at forward?
Other players that missed both the Magic and Hawks games are stars Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. The star-studded forward pair were held out of both contests with minor injuries and look to return in the next game against the Houston Rockets. Ingram suffered a minor toe injury while Williamson was held out with a thumb sprain. In the Magic game, head coach Stan Van Gundy started Josh Hart and newly-acquired James Johnson. Both forwards performed well with Hart posting a double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds) and Johnson setting a new season high in points with 17. Although the Pelicans ultimately lost the contest, the duo’s performance gave fans something to be excited about throughout the game.
In the game against the Hawks, a new name popped up on the injury report from the forward position: Josh Hart. Fans saw Hart visibly shaken up and grasping his right hand after attempting a dunk in the Magic game, but the injury turned out to be far worse than expected. Per nbcsports.com, Hart suffered a UCL tear and is likely to miss a majority of the remainder of the season. The average recovery time for this injury is roughly 26 days.
With Hart likely out long-term, the door is open for James Johnson and Wes Iwundu to see significant time. The Pelicans also gave a start to Naji Marshall in the game against the Hawks, who may see some more time.
Another surprise name on the injury report against the Hawks was starting Center Steven Adams. Adams was held out of the contest due to right ankle soreness, but seems to have avoided a significant injury. It is possible that the Pelicans held Adams out of the contest for rest purposes due to the rest of the injuries, but that was never officially stated. Young gun Jaxson Hayes got the starting nod in Adams’s absence, but he had also just recently returned from a wrist injury.
The Pelicans are currently 1.5 games out of a spot in the play-in tournament and need to be as healthy as possible if they hope to make a run at the playoffs. With a relatively average remaining strength of schedule, the Pelicans will need to win some difficult games to have a chance at the playoffs at this point.
The Pelicans, like every other NBA team, understand the importance of health of players in relation to the success of a given season, which is why they stay up to date on injuries and potential issues. From sprains and pulls to more complex issues such as symptoms of pilonidal disease, a team’s medical staff is tasked with a lot of things to keep an eye on. But when it comes to pilonidal sinus related issues, there is one elite team in the world to help you get the treatment you need, and that team is Evergreen Surgical, the very best in the industry.