Zion Williamson-Brandon Ingram
Photo: Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans have made a poor start to the season and it seems unlikely they will fight for a playoff spot.

More specifically, the Pelicans have lost eight of their first nine games and are at the bottom of the West, with an 1-8 record. The squad plays badly on both ends, while the absence of Zion Williamson has made matters worse.

Williamson has been out of action for a few months, after undergoing foot surgery in offseason. The young forward has not fully recovered and the Pelicans will re-evaluate him in the next 2-3 weeks. That means his season debut could take place in early December, at the earliest.

However, Williamson recently had a workout with New Orleans and looked out of shape. And that’s the most concerning thing for Pelicans fans, because Zion Williamson is considered the undisputed leader of the franchise.

And, certainly, both the fans and Pelicans management expect the return of the No.1 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft to bring the team back to the winning track. However, if Williamson is out of shape, then it is more likely he will suffer another injury instead of making the Pelicans a playoff contender.

Zion Williamson averaged 27 points, seven rebounds and 3.2 assists in 61 league games last season and the coaching staff would expect similar numbers this year. However, it seems the young forward has a lot of work to do to return to shape on time for his season debut.

For their part, the Pelicans will rely on Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas and Josh Hart until Zion’s return. Ingram is averaging 25 points, 7.3 boards and 4.8 assists, while Valanciunas adds 19.2 points and 14.1 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Hart has 10.4 points and 5.4 boards.

Until the return of Zion Williamson takes place, the Pelicans need to focus on their next game. They will face the Western Conference leaders Golden State Warriors (6-1) at Chase Center.

Once again, they are not the betting favorites to win and the betting odds favor the Warriors to claim the victory. Maybe, the season debut of Williamson in a few weeks will bring them in a position to start claiming victories and beating the odds.

In the meantime, there are some good news for the Pelicans fans as FanDuel Louisiana is expected to launch this month. It’s important to mention, no concrete day has been announced yet, however the FanDuel sportsbook is currently offering $100 free to Louisiana bettors ahead of the state’s upcoming online sports betting launch, according to sportsbettingdime.com.

Overall, the New Orleans Pelicans are in free fall and it seems there is no way to turn things around anytime soon. They will be waiting for the return of Zion Williamson, hoping the young big man will be a game changer on both ends.