New Orleans' unexpected playoff push is in the hands of its youth

This was meant to be a rebuilding year for the New Orleans Pelicans, a chance to give their young talents some experience en route back to the NBA draft lottery.

The trouble is, no one told their players.

After a demoralising 6-22 start with No 1 pick Zion Williamson recovering from knee surgery, the Pelicans are now just two games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

With just 13 NBA games under his belt, Williamson is hitting his stride while his minutes restriction appears to be loosening.

The No 1 pick from Duke University played nearly 33 minutes on Friday in a home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 29 points. His remarkable 57 per cent shooting this season is aided by the precision passing of his point guard Lonzo Ball.

Less than three minutes into Friday night’s contest, the team-mates connected on a play that seemed to symbolise the Pelicans’ playoff push being kicked into high gear.

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