The New Orleans Pelicans were the biggest winners of the summer. They got rid of a guy that did not want to be there and replaced it with 3 young players, multiple draft picks, and the chance for a clean slate.
David Griffin also did an outstanding job making the most of his assets during the draft, landing a couple of veteran free agents like JJ Redick and Derrick Favors to help this team win right away.
While they will likely not be a lock for the playoffs this year, the Pelicans have put together one of the most promising squads the league has ever seen. But how will they line up to start the season? Let’s break it down:
Bench: Frank Jackson, JJ Redick, Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, E’Twaun Moore, Jahlil Okafor, Jaxson Hayes
Point Guard: Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball has a chance to redeem himself this season. He’ll get a fresh start away from LA’s bright lights, away from LaVar, and away from Big Baller Brand — so he’ll be entirely focused on basketball for the first time in his career.
Ball has proven to be an elite defender and top-notch playmaker, but injuries, off-court antics, and poor shooting have taken a toll on the way people see him now. He’s just 21 years old, so there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
Shooting Guard: Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday has been able to stay healthy over the last couple of years, and that was the only thing holding him back from reaching All-Star level. If he can stay on the court next season, he might be able to return to star form.
Holiday is a suffocating backcourt defender. He can run the point, play off-ball, and is an aggressive driver. The Pelicans may struggle to shoot with him and Lonzo on the court, but they’ll have an elite defense.
Small Forward: Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram should report to training camp with no restrictions after missing the remainder of last season with a blood clot-related issue. If he’s able to stay healthy, he might be ready to have the breakout year we’ve been expecting since 2016.
Ingram has shown glimpses of superstar potential, but inconsistent shooting and injury proneness have held him back. He’s just 22-years-old, though, and has a lot of upside as a defender and scorer, so the Pelicans should look to him a lot next season.
Power Forward: Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is perhaps the most hyped rookie since LeBron James. People were going crazy over him before he played a single minute at Duke University, so he’ll have a lot of pressure on his shoulders as an NBA rookie next season.
Williamson can be the league’s next superstar with his freak-like athleticism, strong frame, and physical tools. Still, there are some concerns about his shooting, size and how well his legs will handle his heavy body.
Center: Derrick Favors
Derrick Favors will be a somewhat odd fit next to Zion Williamson. They’re both undersized to play the 5 and lack the range to play the 4. Still, coach Alvin Gentry has done wonders with his frontcourts, so he’s likely in for a breakout year.
Nonetheless, Favor’s Achilles heel has always been staying healthy. Fortunately for the Pelicans, they have a couple of capable backups waiting in line, as both Jahlil Okafor in Jaxson Hayes remain on call if he falls with an injury.