The New Orleans Pelicans have won three in a row and currently sit alone as the second seed in the competitive Western Conference.
It’s been a strange ride to get here, as the Pelicans have been missing Brandon Ingram for 14 games and counting and have also had Zion Williamson sidelined recently with an illness.
After losing four in a row, the Pels have rallied behind CJ McCollum and contributions from a different guy just about every night, with everyone from Jonas Valanciunas to Jose Alvarado having big games at different times.
It’s the Pelicans’ depth that makes them so dangerous, and one guy in particular has really stepped up in Ingram’s absence. Naji Marshall doesn’t get a lot of headlines, but he’s been crucial to the Pels’ shorthanded success.
New Orleans Pelicans: Naji Marshall is the team’s glue guy
Naji Marshall is not a household name but he’s been one of the most important players for the New Orleans Pelicans this season.
He was a bit of an afterthought coming in, but earned his way into the rotation and is getting harder to keep out of the lineup.
Every team needs a “glue guy” who does all of the little things, provides the team with whatever it needs on a given night and makes winning plays that don’t often show up in the box scores.
Marshall has been that guy for the Pelicans, as he has done a little bit of everything for New Orleans. He makes plays as the offensive initiator at times, he can get buckets when the team needs one, takes on the tough defensive assignments, makes hustle plays and is the first to dive on the floor or pick up a teammate. He’s hit big 3-point shots, gotten the team going in transition and generally been a spark plug when he is in there.
It culminated in the blowout win over the Pacers, where Marshall poured in 22 points, added six rebounds and hit 4-of-9 from long range.
In his last 12 games, Marshall is averaging 12 points, four rebounds and 2.8 assists, but even those numbers don’t tell the full tale of how important he has been for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s often been part of the Pels’ closing lineup and has been one of their best players in the clutch.
Casual fans around the league may not know who Naji Marshall is, but his teammates definitely do, as he’s been a huge reason they’ve been able to thrive with Brandon Ingram out:
It’s great to see a guy like Marshall succeed, as he has put it the work on his game and found a niche within a very deep team by simply doing whatever they need.
Marshall has been a winning player for the New Orleans Pelicans this season and a huge part of their success.