Pelicans: The case for Naji Marshall to start with Brandon Ingram

Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarded by Naji Marshall #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarded by Naji Marshall #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans will have a lot of new faces this season around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

They swapped out three starters, added Devonte’ Graham and Jonas Valanciunas, and have at least one draft pick that hopes to make an impact in Trey Murphy III.

Willie Green is going to have a lot of lineup possibilities with a position-less team that is very versatile and should be improved defensively even though they are much younger.

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Naji Marshall had a minor role last season but after being a standout in the Pelicans’ undefeated Summer League, he might be able to seize a starting role and putting him in the starting lineup with Brandon Ingram makes a lot of sense.

New Orleans Pelicans: Naji Marshall is the defender the Pelicans need with Brandon Ingram

We’ve talked a lot about starting lineups and predicted who we think will be in the starting five.

But there is a good chance that some new faces will break into the starting lineup and Naji Marshall is a guy who makes a lot of sense defensively.

He is a quality defender who gives effort on that end, can defend multiple spots, and should be able to cover some of Brandon Ingram’s deficiencies on defense.

This would allow Ingram to move to shooting guard, giving the Pels a huge starting five that would create mismatches on one end and allow Marshall to defend 2-4 on the other.

When your two best players are below-average defenders, you have to make up for it by putting them around guys who will focus on getting stops.

New Orleans Pelicans: Naji Marshall is more than just defense and hustle

Marshall’s Summer League numbers jump off the page, and though you can’t put too much stock in Summer League, he looked like a guy who has gotten better on both ends.

He averaged 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and a surprising 4.8 assists per game while looking like one of the best players in the entire league.

What caught my eye was his passing, as Marshall had some great looks and showed that he can make plays and set up teammates. This highlight gives a taste of Marshall’s passing, as he made two of the best passes of the Summer League in one sequence:

Marshall can defend, run the floor and make plays and it might be enough to propel him into the starting lineup, where he fits perfectly with Ingram and Zion Williamson.

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