The New Orleans Pelicans investment in depth is working

New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) blocks a shot from Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray Credit: Larry Robinson-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) blocks a shot from Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray Credit: Larry Robinson-USA TODAY Sports /

While the New Orleans Pelicans have started the 2022-23 NBA season on a strong note, one glaring issue stares them dead in the face: injuries.

Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, three out of the five Pelicans starters were DNP because of injury.

Many thought heading into the primetime matchup that a depleted Pelicans team would use this game to give the younger players on the roster playing reps. Few thought they would win this game, let alone emphatically.

Within the first seven of the contest, the Pelicans’ young guns were giving the home fans a show, leading the Mavs 24-13. They ended the first quarter with a nine point lead, scoring 40 points collectively.

While the Mavs eventually fought their way back into the contest spearheaded by Luka Doncic, the Pels held their own in a back and forth competitive match up.

Related Story. Brutal upcoming schedule will test endurance. light

With some of the Pelicans’ best players out of the line-up, this was a huge win for a team who that same day, was ranked number 11 in ESPN’s future power rankings. After a win like that, without the Pelicans’ two main stars, they will almost certainly move up.

One thing became abundantly clear about the future of this squad after beating the Mavericks: The Pelicans younger role players are developing at a rapid pace, and give New Orleans one of the deepest rosters in the NBA.

New Orleans Pelicans: Depth overcoming injuries

Jose Alvarado, Naji Marshall, and Trey Murphy combined for 50 points on 80 percent shooting from the field after getting the start for New Orleans vs. Dallas. Larry Nance Jr, Devonte’ Graham, and Dyson Daniels combined for 36 points on 61.9 percent shooting from the field coming off the bench.

Each one of these guys brought something different to the table. Alvarado and Graham brought the scoring punch. Marshall and Nance brought the grit, and Murphy played the role of the do-it all focal point.

For Murphy specifically, this game felt like a coming out performance. We all knew the potential he had coming out of the University of Virginia, but seeing all of those skills come out Wednesday, in the form of a 22-point perfect shooting night from the field and distance, must have fans excited about what his future on this team looks like.

For Dyson Daniels, this game served as his first true test. After playing only three minutes combined in the Pels opening three games, the rookie provided 11 points, three steals, and a block on 80 percent shooting in 22 minutes.

Marshall on the other hand might have proved his true worth for this team during Wednesday night’s win. In the final guaranteed season in Marshall’s rookie contract, he took on the opposing team’s toughest matchup and held his own.

While Luka did end up dropping 37 points, Marshall held him to 2 of 13 shooting from distance and played aggressive defense the whole game, letting nothing come easy.

These young Pelicans players really stepped up and showed their home fans in the process why they should be excited about this team. The injury bug will sting the team again this year, but this time they have more depth to withstand it, though they obviously need to get their three starters back healthy to truly contend.

The young role players are ahead of schedule and showing that they can step up when needed, which gives the New Orleans Pelicans a big edge in a long NBA season.

Whether through the draft or bringing on veterans like Larry Nance Jr., the Pels have invested in depth and it is paying off.

Next. 3 reasons the Pelicans are title contenders this season. dark