Multiple Pelicans snubbed by ESPN in preseason rankings

Trey Murphy III & Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Trey Murphy III & Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The start of the 2023-24 NBA regular season is almost upon us. And as those of you who have been following the league for a handful of years are well aware by now, that means that it is time for ESPN to publicize their top 100 players heading into the season.

On Tuesday, they began to do just that, posting their rankings from 100 to 50. On Wednesday, they continued by adding their top 50 through 11. And on Thursday, they wrapped the exercise up with their top 10 players heading into 2023-24.

Listen, whenever you have a list like this, disagreements are bound to arise. There will always be marginal differences to quibble about. That’s what makes sports fun. For instance, ESPN had Brandon Ingram ranked 27th. We can argue that he should be a couple of spots higher/lower. But based on what he’s shown us thus far, that fringe All-Star range seems fair for him.

However, there are disagreements, and then there are blatant snubs. And this version of ESPN’s top 100 had a couple of those as it pertains to members of the New Orleans Pelicans. But before we do that, here are the Pelicans they included in their rankings:

Brandon Ingram – #27

CJ McCollum – #44

Zion Williamson – #57

Jonas Valanciunas – #99

The first fumble here includes a player that was left off the top 100 list entirely. Notice the absence of Trey Murphy III in the names mentioned above? He was not included in ESPN’s top 100 this go-around.

Yes, he’s still young and projected to miss the first month of the season due to injury. But even with those constraints, he’s already the perfect role player for the modern game. He can shoot the nylon off the rim (career 40% 3-point shooter). He can attack closeouts. He can finish lobs (2023 Dunk Contest runner-up). And he can defend well for his position. There is no way there are 100 players in the NBA who have more of a positive impact on winning than the current version of Murphy.

And then there’s the obvious one: Zion Williamson is ranked 57th. The injury concerns are obviously the factor that is holding him back here. As ESPN’s Andrew Lopez notes, “It has seemingly been a big question for Williamson throughout his career: Can he stay healthy? The Pelicans forward’s drop in the rankings is directly tied to his games played. He played 29 games last season and has played more than 30 just once in his four-year career.”

Williamson needs to be dinged in these standings because he hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy (yet). We get that. But to have him all the way outside the top 50 is a little bit ridiculous and objectively worthy of some pushback.

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