Pelicans preseason: Zion dominating and other storylines vs. the Bulls

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) is fouled by Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) is fouled by Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Pelicans will tip-off their preseason tonight on the road vs. the Chicago Bulls and  there is already plenty of buzz.

This will be the first we’ve seen of Zion Williamson in 18 months, so fans are eager to see him healthy and back in action. He came into camp in great shape, looks faster in early footage and has reportedly been lights out in practice, so all eyes will be on Zion tonight.

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But Zion won’t be the only story in tonight’s game for the New Orleans Pelicans, as we’ll also get an early idea of what the rotation might look like, how deep the roster is and defensive roles for certain players.

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How to watch Pelicans vs. Bulls

Before we get into the game, here is all of the information you need for how to watch tonight’s game against the Bulls, as well as some odds and predictions.

The Pelicans’ depth

New Orleans has a deep roster, which coach Wilie Green called “a good problem to have” and that is especially true in preseason. He added in a recent press conference that training camp was extremely competitive with plenty of guys making their cases for roles and minutes.

That will be on display tonight, as the Pels won’t play their regulars big minutes and CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram might not even play, as both are listed as questionable. We’ll likely get a look at the deep bench, with guys like Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall, Daeqwon Plowden, John Petty Jr., Dereon Seabron, recent two-way signing John Butler and former Pelican Zylan Cheatham getting plenty of run.

These guys are all competing for contracts and roles, so expect a very competitive and hard-played first game of preseason from New Orleans.

Who guards LaVine and DeRozan?

We know Herbert Jones will be taking the toughest defensive assignment on the perimeter, but the Bulls have two talented guard/wings in Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, so who is going to defend that second guy? Normally it would likely be Brandon Ingram, but if he is out or limited tonight, we might get a healthy does of Trey Murphy III and Dyson Daniels against the two talented Bulls.

LaVine and DeRozan aren’t likely to play much, but the defensive assignments will give us an early idea of who the next man up is on the wing.

Zion Williamson is going to dominate

I don’t want to put undo pressure on the big man in his first game back, but it would be nice to see him come out and dominate even if it is only for a short run.

There are a couple of reasons I think this is going to happen. The first is that Zion has reportedly been dominating his teammates in practice and looks better than he ever has physically.

Also, the Bulls, like many teams in the NBA, don’t really have anyone who can guard Zion. Who is going to be matched up on him, Patrick Williams? DeRozan? This is a big mismatch for the Pels, so Zion should come out and put up a bunch of points in short order against the smaller Bulls’ defenders.

It’s only preseason but we’ll start to get a better understanding of where everyone stands tonight against the Bulls.

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