New Orleans Pelicans: 3 players primed for a breakout season

Zion Williamson #1, Jaxson Hayes #10, Nickeil Alexander-Walker of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson #1, Jaxson Hayes #10, Nickeil Alexander-Walker of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans will have a radically new roster that is going to rely on internal improvements if they want to get better.

The Pelicans very much want to make the playoffs this season, but it will be tough, as the teams they need to overtake mostly got better themselves.

Have the Pelicans improved? That question is still up for debate, but one thing isn’t: If they want to  make the playoffs they will need internal development from their own guys, including Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, Kira Lewis Jr., Naji Marshall and Jaxson Hayes.

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They will have some new faces in the starting lineup and guys who are ready to seize expanded roles, but who will have a breakout season for the New Orleans Pelicans?

New Orleans Pelicans: Expect more from Jaxson Hayes

Jaxson Hayes had an up and down season last year that saw him benched before re-emerging and showing big improvement.

He was electric down the stretch, scoring in double digits in the final six games including a line of 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks against the Hornets.

Hayes also showed improved shooting and range. He improved his free throw shooting significantly to 77.5 percent and hit 43 percent of his 3-point shots though it was on a low volume of attempts.

Hayes has had a rocky offseason but all signs are pointing up for him as a player. He just keeps getting better and showing more and is poised for a bigger role this season under Willie Green.

Josh Hart is ready to lead the New Orleans Pelicans

There is debate about whether Josh Hart should be in the starting lineup but I don’t think it really matters, as he was effective off the bench last season and played starter’s minutes anyway.

Hart’s fatal flaw is his inconsistent shooting, which is a big one, but the good news is he is strong everywhere else, so if he can just improve his 3-point shooting, he’ll have a breakout season and be in the running for 6th Man of the Year.

Having a fatal flaw is not good, but at least he knows what it is and exactly what to work on this offseason.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a star in the making

I may be getting ahead of myself, but I think Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a star in the making. He is ready to take the starting shooting guard role and hopefully evolve into the Pels’ third scoring option.

I love that he got some valuable experience this summer playing for Team Canada and he has spent the rest of it fine-tuning his offensive game.

I think we are going to see a more aggressive NAW this season and I think he’s ready to break out and score 20 points per game as as starter.

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