The New Orleans Pelicans have a very bright future ahead of itself. I honestly believe that they could make the playoffs this upcoming season. They have a chance to be a very fast-paced team, with both Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball leading the charge. When Lonzo was with the Lakers, the majority of his game was a quick break for a layup or a long outlet pass to his teammate for an electric dunk on the other end. Holiday has a good amount of work ahead of him. He is one of the five players who have been in the league for longer than five years. It’s going to be the youngest team he ever had to deal with. It may take time for this team to truly gel together and really be a threat in this league, but again, I wouldn’t be shocked if they sneak in and be the eighth seed in the West, I honestly think they could also get to even being the seventh seed.

This is a new team we are seeing, with a key player (Anthony Davis) getting traded off to the Los Angeles Lakers. In return, the Pelicans received a good amount of young talent; Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart. All three are talented in their own way. Lonzo is an underrated defender and ball carrier. His only true weakness is his shooting ability, but looking at him in the preseason, it looks like he has been working on it a lot this summer. I know many of these players aren’t truly trying because these games don’t matter, but seeing a player that you know was struggling from anywhere ten feet and out, really shows that he has been working. Josh Hart was known to come off the bench and be the guy to keep the energy going. Brandon Ingram is a streaky player, I think him being out of a very crowded city could help him concentrate more on basketball.

Point Guards

Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  • Lonzo Ball
  • Josh Gray *Two-Way
  • Josh Hart
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Frank Jackson

Lonzo and Jrue can possibly one of the best backcourt duos when it comes to defensively. Jrue is an underrated point guard in this league and proves it every year. His role is going to be expanding a lot more this upcoming season. With him being the only veteran in this system and being one of the oldest veterans on the team, he’s got to make sure he gets them to know how to play, especially late in the season or even in a close game. Josh Hart can be a starter for this team, if they ever go short and fast he would definitely play a lot more. They could run a lot like what Golden State did last year with the lineup of; Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Green, and KD. Alexander-Walker is coming in as a rookie and is showing promise during his run in the preseason, he and second year guy Jackson from Duke can make great additions off the bench if they keep improving. The great thing about them all being young it gives everyone a chance to be able to play a good amount of time while they try and figure an identity out.

Shooting Guards

Credit: Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports
  • Jalen Adams
  • Javon Bess
  • E’Twaun Moore
  • JJ Reddick
  • Kenrich Williams

JJ Reddick and E’Twaun Moore are two of the other very few veterans on the team, and they both have had pretty good success throughout their careers. Reddick has been known as one of the best three point shooters off a screen and Moore has been known for his stellar defense. Both bring a lot of to the table on this refurbished roster. Kenrich and Adams are more players to add to the list of young core players. With that many players, anybody can get a good amount of playing time, them two are especially one of them. With both Reddick and Moore towards the end of their careers, the pelicans are looking for the next man up out of a young player that could eventually take over the shooting guard position when the time is right.

Small Forwards

Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
  • Zylan Cheatham *Two-Way
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Nicolò Melli
  • Darius Miller
  • Zion Williamson

With Zion Williamson missing the opening of the season, I see Brandon Ingram starting the season then when Zion is healthy again him moving to the power forward position to give the line up a more quicker and more explosive defense and offense. Zylan is a rookie two-way player, so we will see the majority of him in the G-League. Miller has been with the team for five years and has been as a role player but will miss the season with a knee injury.

Power Forwards

Credit: David Zalubowski/Associated Press
  • Kavell Bigby-Williams
  • Derrick Favors
  • Jaxson Hayes

Favors is also part of the very few veteran players on the team, after being with Utah for the majority of his career. He joins the young Pelicans to help them bring a little bit more scoring and length to the bench roster. Hayes is one of Shaka Smarts players from Texas and Shaka is very underrated at grooming NBA players. Jaxson will make a great addition. Kavell is one of the rookies that could see a lot of playing time due to the young talent and trying to figure what works early in the season.

Centers

Credit: Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports
  • Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil will be the main center for the Pelicans, but if need be than can move Derrick Favors to that position. Jhalil can have break out year this, being the only inside man on the team. With the correct matchup, he can get fed a lot down low and get a good amount of points. Plus, I also believe he can be very good at the pick-n-roll game with Lonzo and Jrue.

Coach

Credit: Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports

Alvin Gentry is a very good coach. He has taken a franchise who had some very rough years. But then building up AD and then trading for DeMarcus Cousins back in 2014-15 season, tragically that season ended with Cousins tearing his Achilles and then having AD take on a very good Warriors team. But now he has a team that is young, explosive, and very talented at all positions. Yes there will be some growing pains during the season, but its also a very long season. Many things will happen during the season, hopefully in a good way, but this is a young team. There will be stretches where they may lose five in a row, due to mainly I think to the multiple different scenarios that will come across from different teams, and even playing the same team multiple times in a week, they can still change their schemes up and throwing a different curve ball than what you saw the last time you played against them.

Projected Started Lineup/Roster Cuts

  • PG: Jrue Holiday
  • PG/SG: Lonzo Ball
  • SF: Brandon Ingram
  • PF: Derrick Favors
  • C: Jahlil Okafor
  • Sixth Man: Josh Hart
  • Rest of the Bench: JJ Reddick, E-Twaun Moore, Jaxson Hayes, Nicolò Melli, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Frank Jackson, Kenrich Williams, Nicolò Melli
  • Two-Way Players: Josh Gray, Zylan Cheatham
  • Injured: Zion Williamson (for the time being), Darius Miller (out for the season)
  • Roster Cuts: Kavell Bigby-Williams, Jalen Adams, Javon Bess

Overall, this is a team that could make it to playoffs late in the season by stringing together enough wins. If that ends up happening, then I believe this team is ahead of schedule of being where they want to be, which is winning the NBA Finals. The Pelicans are set up to be one of the fastest teams in the league, and if they click fast and early on in the season they can be a scary to play against.

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