Pelicans demonstrate dominant performance in NBA’s summer league

Ben Glazer, Contributing Reporter

The New Orleans Pelicans finally got a glimpse of their future with rookies and young players competing in the annual NBA Summer League. After a tumultuous season ravaged by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and an underperforming team, the Pelicans’ fortunes should soon drastically improve. 

During the draft on July 29, the Pelicans traded their 10th pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the 17th pick and the rights to select Trey Murphy. In the second round, they chose Herbert Jones with the 35th pick. Murphy is a six-foot-nine-inch shooting guard out of the University of Virginia and Jones is a six-foot-eight-inch small forward from the University of Alabama. Both players got the chance to show off their skills in five summer league games along with fellow teammates Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kira Lewis Jr. and Naji Marshall. 

From small market to big market teams, the phones were busy as organizations negotiated deals for available free agents during the trade season. In an off-season that saw big names such as Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry switch teams, the Pelicans traded point guard Lonzo Ball to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Tomas Satoransky and Garett Temple, along with a future second round pick. Losing Lonzo Ball undoubtedly hurts the team and the return package is not exactly what most executives would have hoped for. Subsequently, the Pelicans traded a first round pick for Devonte Graham from the Charlotte Hornets to round out the roster. According to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Graham signed a four-year, $47 million contract.

The summer league started off with a bang. When the Pelicans stepped on the court, fans and scouts alike were able to enjoy the emergence of a potential star in Murphy. With his superb athleticism and 3-point shooting, Murphy wowed his teammates and coaches in an impressive 26-point, nine-rebound showing. Marshall had a solid game as well, contributing 18 points, five rebounds and three steals. 

Despite Murphy’s significant impact, Marshall quietly had the most consistent games, scoring more than 14 points and five rebounds in four out of the five games. Additionally, Lewis Jr. provided a nice combo through his 22-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers but mostly struggled with his shot over the course of the schedule. Unfortunately, Jones did not receive much playing time, yet he managed to help his team down the stretch via a 10-point, three-rebound and three-assist performance in his second to last game.

As the summer league finally came to a close, it was clear that the Pelicans had a great group of young talent that could immediately help them win. The Sacramento Kings were the ultimate winners of the summer league championship; however, the Pelicans did finish with a perfect 5-0 record. Davion Mitchell won co-MVP and guided his team with a ferocious display of two-way play. Nonetheless, the Pelicans hold their heads high as they prepare for the upcoming season with a chance to convince their all-star power forward, Zion Williamson, to stay and call New Orleans his home.