Projected starting lineup: New Orleans Pelicans
Point Guard: CJ McCollum
Shooting Guard: Trey Murphy
Small Forward: Brandon Ingram
Power Forward: Zion Williamson
Center: Jonas Valanciunas
New Orleans had a turbulent 2022–23 season; at one point, they were 10 games above .500 but finished the season with a 19–28 record. That was mainly due to their avalanche of injuries, with their two best players missing a combined 90 games. If healthy, the Pelicans could be a top-4 seed in the Western Conference, but starting shooting guard Trey Murphy is already expected to miss the start of the season with an injury.
So is backup point guard Jose Alvarado, though more importantly, star Zion Williamson should be ready to play. That would be huge for the Pelicans, who simply don’t have enough without him to compete in the West.
When healthy, he gives them a bruising and highly efficient 25+ ppg scorer. And, when paired with other talented scorers like McCollum and Ingram, it gives them a three-headed offensive threat. Unfortunately, over the last season and a half, that trio has played just 10 games together. Getting those three to stay healthy is the key for their starting lineup, and their team as a whole, to live up to expectations in 2023–24.