The New Orleans Pelicans drafted Trey Murphy III with the 17th pick and that is already looking like a steal.
I don’t put too much stock in Summer League numbers, but Murphy III passed the eye test as well, looking stronger and holding his own against some bigger players defensively.
He also showed a nice shooting touch and looks like a guy who is going to benefit from all of the open looks Zion Williamson creates.
Murphy III has a big wingspan and was able to defend Patrick Williams, Evan Mobley and Jonathan Kuminga well during Summer League, a skill that might give him a puncher’s chance at Rookie of the Year.
He does have some overlapping skills with Brandon Ingram, though Ingram works much more in the mid-range at this point in their respective careers and Murphy III looks like a better defender.
So how do the two fit?
New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Ingram and Trey Murphy III on defense
I think Willie Green is going to use a lot of different lineups and we will definitely see Ingram and Murphy deployed together in a number of ways.
Murphy III could slot in at shooting guard, with B.I. at small forward in certain matchups and both could also see time at power forward. Regardless of what position you want to call it, having a long wing who can defend is going to help Ingram, who isn’t the greatest defender.
When these two are playing together, Murphy III can take on the tougher wing assignment, which should benefit Ingram. I also love that both have huge wingspans to cover a lot of ground, get deflections and block shots.
Brandon Ingram and Trey Murphy III on offense
The Pelicans could use any number of small ball lineups with Murphy III at power forward or even at center.
They could also go big and put Murphy III at the two, but either way, he is going to benefit from Ingram’s ability to score and set up teammates.
Ingram is an underrated passer who averaged 4.9 assists last season, so I could see these two forming a two-man game with Ingram working in the mid-range and kicking out to Murphy III if he gets doubled.
Ingram is a deadly shooter from all over the court and is going to draw defenders, which should get Murphy III a lot of open shots. If defenses stay at home and respect Murphy’s shooting, then Ingram is going to get a lot of good looks himself as he can shoot over just about everyone in the league in one-on-one situations.
I really love the fit of Ingram and Murphy, especially when Zion Williamson is also on the floor, which is why I would love to see Willie Green experiment with some starting lineups containing all three.
The Pelicans are a lot younger, faster and more athletic this season and should have some exciting lineup combinations.