Pelicans hope to build off last season entering 2022-2023 NBA season

Benny Greenspan, Staff Reporter

Mylie Bluhm

After a late season run that ended with them squeezing their way into the playoffs and going toe-to-toe with the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in a series that lasted six games, anticipation for the New Orleans Pelicans going into the 2022-2023 NBA season is at an all-time high. 

That being said, having high expectations for this Pelicans team is pretty reasonable. Notably, all-star and former first-overall pick Zion Williamson is in game shape after finally being fully recovered from his broken foot injury that kept him out all of last season. 

The Pelicans are going to add Williamson to the same core roster that brought them to the playoffs last season, led by Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum. Brandon Ingram is coming off his best stretch in his NBA career, averaging 27 points a game along with six rebounds and six assists in the playoffs last season. The main questions going into this season focus on how Williamson is able to fit in with Ingram and McCollum, considering the three of them are players who operate mainly with the ball in their hands. Who will primarily run the offense? 

As far as the rest of the team goes, the Pelicans have just about as good of a supporting cast as it gets. Center, Jonas Valanciunas, is an interior force on both ends, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds a game last season while also shooting 36% from three-point range. Pairing up Williamson and Valanciunas is going to give opponents nightmares when it comes to boxing out and creating second chance opportunities on the offensive end. 

Then there’s the young guys, mainly the defensive force small forward Herbert Jones who stands at 6 feet 7 inches to go along with a 7-foot wingspan. Jones enters his second year already established as one of the best defensive players in the league who can match up with pretty much anyone, and the phrase ‘Not on Herb’ has gained popularity throughout both the team and the city of New Orleans. Other big second year players consist of the New Orleans icon Jose “Grand Theft” Alvarado, a defense first guard mainly known by his ability to sneak behind point guards and snatch the ball away from them, as well as “three-and-D” player Trey Murphy. All three players are looking to build on their strong rookie seasons and serve as key role players on a team looking to contend deep into the playoffs. 

Filling up the rest of the supporting cast is veteran forward Larry Nance Jr., scoring machine Devante Graham and the high flying Jackson Hayes. It is safe to say that this team might be one of the most entertaining teams in the league to watch. 

The Pelicans not only have the roster to contend, but they have the coach. As second-year head coach, Willie Green is already one of the most respected coaches in the league. Coach Green is hoping to lead his team to success in a wide open, yet extremely deep, Western Conference like has never been seen before. The sky’s the limit for the Pelicans, and it’s time to find out how high  Williamson, Ingram and company are going to be able to reach. 

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