Basketball: Steven Adams, Zion Williamson set to bully NBA, warns New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan van Gundy

The message from New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan van Gundy is clear - you best not mess with Steven Adams and Zion Williamson.

The towering Kiwi centre has a new home for the next three NBA seasons and will play alongside bona fide superstar Williamson - the No.1 pick of the 2019 draft.

Injury curtailed a promising debut season for the Duke University graduate, who averaged 22 points and six rebounds through his first 24 games in the league.

The addition of Adams, who was traded from Oklahoma City Thunder last month, immediately transforms the Pelicans frontcourt into one of the biggest and most feared in the NBA.

Van Gundy, who was appointed coach in October, is excited by his powerhouse duo and believes he has the most physical 'four-five' combination in the league.

"Find me a 'four' and 'five' anywhere in the league that is more physical than those two guys - you can't," Van Gundy says.

"When we made that trade, I knew for sure that you may be able to come in here and outshoot us, and you may find a way to beat us, but you are not  punking the New Orleans Pelicans - ever - with those two guys next to each other." 

The Pelicans have recruited well for the upcoming season and are expected to be a playoff-quality team in a stacked Western Conference that includes league champions Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. 

The veteran coach has pinpointed several key areas the team hopes to improve for the 2021 season and Adams' recruitment is a big part of that process.

The Pelicans were one of the worst-performing teams in the league last season in defensive rebounding and defending around the basket - two strengths of Adams' growing game. 

Van Gundy's appointment could be an indication that Adams is set for a career-best season.

The 61-year-old led Orlando Magic to 111 wins in his first two years as head coach (2007-08), with Dwight Howard playing at centre. Van Gundy is a big fan of the big man, after coaching sides that included Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Andre Drummond.