New Orleans Pelicans: So many good young players, so few minutes
The young Pelicans have gotten increased roles and minutes with all of the injuries and they have made the most of them.
Trey Murphy III has scored 20+ in three straight games after scoring 26 last night in his 9th start of the season. His average is up to 13.1 points per game on the season, and he is also adding 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
This is all with shooting splits of 48/41/94 that are among the best in the NBA. His recent performances are why he was my pick for 6th Man of the Year, but if he stays in the starting lineup much longer he might also have a shot at Most Improved Player.
New Orleans got Murphy III with the 17th pick and I think you could make an argument for him going as high as 5th if we did it again. He too is just 22-years-old and is part of that young core of players who are making big contributions on rookie deals, which is crucial for sustained success.
But it doesn’t stop there, as Dyson Daniels is looking like the best defensive player from his draft, and narrowly missed his first triple double last night. The 19-year-old is WAY ahead of the curve, as he already looks like a veteran defender and is comfortable running the offense, taking it to the rim, setting up teammates, shooting the 3-point shot and grabbing tough boards.
Did I mention that he’s 19?
Since becoming a full-time part of the rotation, Daniels is averaging 6.6 points, five rebounds and three assists while logging nearly a steal per game. He’s shooting 52.5 percent from the floor overall and 42.9 percent from 3-point range, a testament to his work with Fred Vinson.
But his impact goes beyond the numbers, as he is already a plus defender who can guard multiple positions and be disruptive. He’s shown he can play on or off the ball, and he’s another guy who would probably go higher in a re-draft.
Daniels would already be starting for a lot of teams, and just keeps getting better every time he plays. This guy has future All-Star potential and the New Orleans Pelicans have him locked into a rookie deal through the 2025-26 season, by which point he will be very good just as CJ McCollum is coming off the books.
The staggering of contacts and talent is crucial to building a sustained winner and the Pelicans have done it perfectly. And they aren’t finished yet.