The New Orleans Pelicans avoided a disaster, finding out that Trey Murphy III’s meniscus injury would not force him to miss most/all of the 2023-24 NBA Season. Still, he did have to undergo surgery to repair his slightly torn left meniscus. And as a result, he’ll be out for 10-12 weeks. That means he will miss roughly one month of the regular season.
After an excellent sophomore campaign, many people foresaw an increased role for Murphy in 2023-24. So, now that he won’t be around for a month or so, the Pelicans will have to fill the void left by his absence.
However, given how good Murphy has gotten, replicating his impact is going to be difficult for one player to accomplish on their lonesome. It is going to be a group effort. With that said, we’ve identified three players who will need to contribute to said effort.
1. CJ McCollum
Initially, seeing CJ McCollum’s name on this list may be counterintuitive. After all, doesn’t he already play a ton of minutes? How could he step up even more?
It isn’t so much a change in his minutes as much as it is a change in role. At this point in time, arguably the most important thing Murphy brings to the Pelicans is spacing. With him on the shelf, the Pelicans are going to need a reliable scorer who can hit the open threes created by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram while also attacking hard closeouts when those types of defenses are presented to them.
Most people know McCollum for his brilliance as an on-ball/isolation scorer. However, just because that’s his preference doesn’t mean he can’t be a credible spacer when he needs to be.
Over the last three years, McCollum has hit 45% of his wide-open 3-pointers, which places him in the 91st percentile league-wide (per thinkingbasketball.net). And he did that on solid volume, too (58th percentile in attempts per 36 minutes). Next season, New Orleans will need less on-ball offense and more off-ball offense from McCollum, at least until Murphy is back.