The New Orleans Pelicans want to improve on last season by getting a higher seed and going deep into the playoffs.
Getting Zion Williamson back will help, as will full seasons from CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. to go along with a roster full of guys competing for minutes.
But it won’t all be about Zion, as the Pelicans will need to get improvement from all of their young guys to truly have a chance to compete in what should be a very good Western Conference.
That includes Trey Murphy III, who had a slow start to last season but should have a drastically increased role in year two for a couple of reasons.
New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Murphy III’s role
TMIII played in 62 games for the Pelicans last season and averaged just under 14 minutes per game, but there are signs that is about to change.
He saw his minutes go way up in the last 15 games of the season, and he played a role in the playoffs as well, clearly earning coach Willie Green’s trust. Murphy III was putting in more effort on defense and on the boards, and coach Green rewarded him with more minutes, which he made the most of.
I think that trend will continue into next season, where we will see TMIII get over 20 minutes per game off the bench.
The other reason his role will increase is that the Pelicans are going to need his shooting. TMIII is really the only player off the Pelicans’ bench who is a knock-down 3-point shooter, something New Orleans is going to need to help space the floor in lineups where the Pelicans need a bucket.
With Zion and Brandon Ingram on the floor, spacing is going to be crucial, and Trey Murphy III will be one of the best at taking advantage of the open shots they create, making it tougher for teams to double team in the mid-range and post.
TMIII has earned his coach’s trust and that coupled with his ability to knock down open 3-pointers should lead to much-increased role next season.