Where do the Pelicans land in ESPN and B/R’s 2021-22 Power Rankings?

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Where do the Pelicans land in ESPN and B/R’s 2021-22 Power Rankings?
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As the 2020-21 season has finally come to an end with the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA championship, we reflect on this season while also looking forward to next season.

For the New Orleans Pelicans, the 2020-21 season was a step in the wrong direction and an overall disappointment. The Pelicans finished the regular season with a 31-41 record and missing the playoffs and play-in tournament.

This offseason has already been a busy one with the firing of Stan Van Gundy and the addition of new head coach Willie Green.

Looking forward to the 2021-22 season, ESPN and Bleacher Report put together early power rankings for the entire league.

See below to find out where the Pelicans land in both rankings.

ESPN: No. 21

In the ESPN 2021-22 Power Ranking, the New Orleans Pelicans landed at No. 18. Andrew Lopez of ESPN explained his thinking behind New Orleans' ranking.

"After a disappointing finish to the season, New Orleans and coach Stan Van Gundy parted ways after just one 72-game stretch. Now, Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green will be tasked with trying to get the Pelicans on the right track. The Pelicans have major decisions to make with restricted free agents Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart as well as whether they'll trade or keep the No. 10 pick in the upcoming draft. But ultimately Green will have to make a roster centered around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram work better than Van Gundy did."

After an already busy offseason with a coaching change, the Pelicans project to be one of the busiest, most intriguing teams during the offseason. The decision to be made on Lonzo Ball's future in New Orleans is looming and looks to be on the way out, whether that's via sign-and-trade or the Pelicans decline to match his offer sheet altogether. https://twitter.com/LonzoWire/status/1417892230250078208?s=20

Bleacher Report: No. 20

Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report slotted the Pelicans at No. 21 in B/R's 2021-22 Power Ranking.

"Lonzo Ball is no guarantee to return as a restricted free agent, however, as The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that New Orleans is "unlikely to match a significant offer sheet" on the 23-year-old point guard."

If the Pelicans do decide to move on from Lonzo, as expected, where do they turn? Does Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis get the keys to the car, as David Griffin reportedly wants, or do they go after a veteran like Kyle Lowry or even a trade for the likes of Damian Lillard? A lot of looming questions for a Pelicans team, who as Swartz states, isn't a playoff roster but has the makings of one.

"This isn't a playoff team as currently constructed, but executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has the assets to turn it into one."

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