Before the NBA preseason begins, the New Orleans Pelicans players addressed the media on Monday, Sept. 30, for Pelicans Media Day to talk about the offseason and the feeling around the team.
The exchange between Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson and offseason acquisition JJ Redick stole the show.
Let’s set the stage.
Redick has not missed the playoffs in his 13-year NBA career. Williamson is entering his first NBA season.
The veteran shooting guard from Duke had one demand for the rookie forward.
“Don’t f— this up.”
Williamson confirmed the exchange at media day.
“He had just given me some great advice, and the whole mood shifted,” Williamson said. “He was like, ‘Don’t mess this up for me.’”
The other players to take the spotlight were Jahlil Okafor, Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday.
Okafor is only 23 years old and he is already heading into year five.
“It’s been cool. I’m realizing I’m going into year five,” Okafor said. “I do have some experience to help out the young guys. At the same time, I am a younger guy.”
The Pelicans acquired three, now former, Los Angeles Lakers players in Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Ball.
Ball is coming off an offseason where he was rehabbing from a season-ending ankle injury. He played 47 games for the Lakers last season, averaging 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 30.3 minutes per game.
“I’m fully cleared to do everything,” Ball said. “A lot of rehab but it all paid off and I’m ready to go for training camp.”
The team leader, Holiday, has been with the Pelicans for six seasons and the roster overhaul has brought a different energy than what he has experienced so far.
“The energy is definitely different,” Holiday said. “It’s picked up. People love to come into the gym and work. I’m really excited.”
Holiday is entering his 7th season with New Orleans and the team definitely looks different from just one year ago. The Pelicans added rookies Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker along with Williamson. Derrick Favors was another offseason addition.
The new-look Pelicans will play in their first preseason game on Oct. 7 against the Atlanta Hawks.