The New Orleans Pelicans will have a lot of new faces this season after trading away three starters.
When trying to predict starting lineups, we often look at which position each player will slot into, using terms like “point guard” and “shooting guard” which really no longer apply in the modern NBA, especially to a team like the Pelicans.
More and more we are seeing players who defy easy categorization, and all teams are searching for long, athletic players who can defend all over and don’t necessarily have a defined position.
The Pelicans could be an extreme example of this next season, as they are going to roll with lineups that would make old-school basketball fans’ heads hurt.
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson is changing the NBA and the Pels are building around him
Zion Williamson is unique player, as he is a 280 lb. force of nature who can jump out of the gym and moves like a guard.
He played what would be traditionally be called “point guard” last season even though he certainly doesn’t fit the mold of the small and super quick guys we think of for that position.
After trying to have a more traditional roster last season with guys like Eric Bledsoe playing “shooting guard” and Steven Adams playing “center,” the Pels will enter this season with a bunch of guys who can play anywhere.
Recently signed Josh Hart has defended everyone from point guards to power forwards and will continue to do so. Same with Trey Murphy III, whose length and ability to guard up might unlock some devastating small ball lineups for the Pelicans.
Brandon Ingram can play two positions if the Pels want to go big, same with Naji Marshall, who will guard whoever you ask him to whether it is the other team’s center or shooting guard.
Herbert Jones and Didi Louzada will be similar position-less players at some point in the future and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Devonte’ Graham have already shown the ability to play both guard spots.
Other than Kira Lewis Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas, the Pelicans don’t really have a guy who has a traditional position, which is going to give Willie Green a ton of options and lineup flexibility.
This is the type of team you need around Zion Williamson, as his unique talents cannot be easily labeled, and he needs teammates who are similarly versatile.