What the New Orleans Pelicans can learn from the Boston Celtics

Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans d. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans d. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans made the playoffs this season and hope to soon make the leap to title contender.

The Pels will add the 8th pick of the 2022 NBA Draft and Zion Williamson to this season’s roster, so there is reason to believe that they could soon reach the NBA Finals.

One of the teams there now, the Boston Celtics, has given the New Orleans Pelicans a roadmap to get there, and the Pelicans can emulate some of what they are doing.

New Orleans Pelicans: Play position-less basketball

The Celtics are showing that you don’t need guys who fill traditional positional roles to succeed in the NBA.

Boston doesn’t have a traditional point guard or center, but instead uses versatile and long wings on the perimeter in combination with to versatile forwards in the front court.

They have the ability to play a lot of different styles, can switch all over the court on defense and create mismatches on the other end.

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The New Orleans Pelicans are well on their way in this regard, as they have players like Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones, Zion Williamson, Trey Murphy III, Larry Nance Jr. who don’t play traditional roles and can play a few different positions.

It would be nice to see the Pelicans beef up their bench with some more size at guard, as they have three small players behind CJ McCollum and could use more switch-ability and size off the bench.

The New Orleans Pelicans should look for another long, versatile player in the Draft, such as Bennedict Mathurin, Dyson Daniels or Tari Eason, as these are the types of players who are thriving in the modern NBA.

Defense wins titles

It’s not a coincidence that the NBA Finals feature the two best defenses in the NBA this season.

The Celtics have guys who can guard the post and the perimeter in Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, Jaylen Brown and Grant Williams, which gives them a big advantage when teams attempt to go small, as their bigs can step out and defend guards, and their guards are comfortable defending up.

The Pelicans could definitely use another big man who is a little more versatile defensively, as neither Jonas Valanciunas or Jaxson Hayes are particularly good at switching on screens. A guy like Jalen Duren might seem a reach with the 8th pick, but when you look at the success Boston has had with Robert Williams III as their defensive anchor, it makes some sense.

The Pels have definitely started to build a defensive identity around Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado, and they did make some progress this season, but they were still just 20th in defensive efficiency.

They need to get into the top-10 to be a real contender, as the Pels already have the offensive firepower to compete with anyone.

The New Orleans Pelicans look to be at the beginning of what could be a very successful era, but they can learn a few things from the Celtics.

The Pelicans can keep cashing in on the Lakers' draft picks. dark. Next