Will the New Orleans Pelicans unleash more of their “death lineup?”

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have a deep roster, which has left coach Willie Green with a plenty of possible lineup configurations.

Coach Green has used a lot of five-man groups, with the starting five leading the way with only 66 minutes played together through 10 games.

In the last loss to Indiana, the Pels briefly unleashed a lineup that some have dubbed their “death lineup” after the famous small-ball group that the Warriors used effectively during their title runs. Name aside, the Pelicans are also in a position to play small at times, which could give them an advantage on offense without giving up too much defensively.

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The key to the Warriors going small was the ability of Draymond Green to defend all over the floor, much the way Herb Jones does for the Pelicans now.

What we saw at the end of the game vs. Indiana could be the beginning of a lineup we see more regularly as the season progresses.

The New Orleans Pelicans going small

For just five minutes of the Indiana game, we saw what could be the Pels’ ultimate small-ball lineup:

  • CJ McCollum
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Herb Jones
  • Trey Murphy III
  • Zion Williamson

This is just one of many options coach Green has when going small and not using a real center, and this one probably has the most offensive potential.

There’s a little bit of everything in this lineup, from a devastating post player, two of the game’s best mid-range players, a lights-out 3-point shooter and a do-it-all defender who can take on just about any assignment.

The sample size is tiny, as that was the first time we’ve seen this lineup all season, but in their five minutes, they outscored Indiana 17-10 and had an offensive rating of 188.9, which is…umm…good.

Obviously there could be issues on defense, especially if playing against a bigger lineup or one with a real center, but Jones, Ingram and TMIII are all long defenders who can hold their own against several positions.

With Larry Nance Jr. possibly out tonight against the Bulls, we may get a chance to see Zion Williamson at the five in short stretches and it would be great to see this lineup unleashed for more run.

If the Pels are going to use Zion at the five, they need to surround him with shooters and tall, versatile defenders, which is exactly what this lineup does. I hope we see more of it in the future.

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