Coach Willie Green is the Pelicans’ best asset and he needs to be given patience and time

It’s Saturday night and I’m watching the New Orleans Pelicans cut a New York Knicks lead down to five while a fierce battle happens in the fourth quarter on a night Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are not playing.

Second-round pick out of Alabama Herb Jones is harassing Julius Randle, Kira Lewis Jr. is running the offense faster than Speedy Gonzales, and Jonas Valančiūnas did his best Wilt Chamberlin impression.

While all this may not be enough to win the game, the Pelicans were supposed to be blown out by the 4-1 Knicks without their two cornerstones, right?

With Ingram, their only 25 ppg leading scorer without Zion, the Pelicans have been in tough battles that they were counted out of. The hope is that Zion can save the sinking ship upon return and guide a roster of green NBA players into the postseason.

For now, New Orleans waits for the product to form at the same time they’re waiting for a healthy Zion to show up. While Zion could be an important ingredient to future Pelican success, the franchise may have found what they’ve truly been missing with head coach Willie Green.

I’ve seen enough to believe Green is possibly the most important Pelicans hire so far, but he needs to be awarded time, patience, and support for any of this workout.

Moral victories don’t count towards anything official so it’s understandable how fans can get fatigued on them. However, outcomes like yesterday and tonight, with or without Zion are probably what we’re in store for in the immediate future.

Let’s face it. The Pelicans might not even blame up the NBA when Zion returns. We don’t know what kind of shape he’ll be in or if he’ll be rusty or have chemistry with his teammates. I’m not saying that he won’t either. It’s just had to instantly throw any player into a rotation and win games immediately.

Investing in coaches is investing in the future. The signs of a good investment are there for Green despite what the win-loss column shows. By this squad being there in battles they normally would have no business being in, it is evident that Green is teaching this group of young men the modern game of basketball.

They’re also responding.

Green’s first success comes in the form of rotations and lineups and discovering that Jones is an actual serviceable NBA player underneath all of that raw athleticism. Now Jones is adding offense to his shutdown defense.

These small success stories aren’t translating to win yet but they are the kind of successes that have to happen first.

The road to glory may be, and likely is, long and it should be Willie Green that leads the way.

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