3 Scenarios the Pelicans desperately need to avoid in 2023-24

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
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Jonas Valanciunas Pelicans
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images) /

3. Don’t stay married to traditional lineups. 

One of the things that bothered me the most about the Pelicans’ coaching staff last season was how fixated they were on playing lineups with a traditional center. The Pelicans almost always had someone like Jonas Valanciunas, Jaxson Hayes, or Willy Hernangomez on the floor. Hell, even Larry Nance Jr. (their “small-ball” option) fits under this designation for me because of his lack of spacing.

I remember watching Head Coach Tyronn Lue trot out micro-ball lineups during the Los Angeles Clippers first-round series against the Phoenix Suns and thinking to myself, “Man, the Pelicans would never do anything like this.”

While the micro-ball experiment didn’t help Lue and the Clippers pull off the upset, it is good to have a coach who is willing to try bizarre tactics (especially in the playoffs). The Pelicans this year need to be mindful that they are experimenting with different lineup configurations.

The good news here is that, at least based on their Media Day interviews, the team looks to be open to playing smaller in 2023-24.

Hearing this is very promising, but this shouldn’t be the limit of their creativity. They need to play more lineups that feature Herbert Jones at the five. They need to play lineups where Brandon Ingram is the de facto point guard. They need to use the regular season to get crazy and figure out what works for the playoffs.

They need to make sure that, this season, they don’t fall back in love with old habits.

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