3 Pelicans who will need to step up in Trey Murphy III’s absence

Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Naji Marshall Pelicans
Naji Marshall, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

2. Naji Marshall

Long-time readers of this website know I love me some Naji Marshall. And when you really think about it, why wouldn’t I? The guy is a good defender (both on and off the ball), he can play next to stars, he can attack off the dribble, and he can do some playmaking.

If he could just get his 3-point shot to a consistent level (for his career, he’s a 28.6% 3-point shooter), he’d be the Pelicans very own version of Caleb Martin. Martin is a different player than Murphy, but if Marshall can reach the levels Martin was able to during the 2023 NBA Playoffs, that would be a massive win for New Orleans.

Anyway, one underrated part about Murphy’s injury is the defense New Orleans will be losing. Many people believed that the Pelicans’ opening day starting lineup would be McCollum/Murphy/Williamson/Ingram/Jonas Valanciunas.

Of those players, Murphy is the only one you could say is above average for his position defensively. With him out for a month, it will be up to the Pelicans’ bench forwards to take on the torch on his behalf.

The reason we chose to spotlight Marshall over someone else (like Herbert Jones) is because his aggressiveness on offense gives him a better chance of being a viable two-way guy for the team, if he can just become a more reliable 3-point shooter.

I know the whole “if X player could shoot” jig is overused. But seriously, if Marshall could shoot, he’d go a long way toward filling the void left by Murphy.