On Tuesday, the New Orleans Pelicans will play their final preseason game of the 2023-24 cycle against the Orlando Magic (coincidentally also the team they started the preseason against) at 7 PM EST (6 PM EST). But who will they have available for this game? Are they going to rest their starters? And what about guys like Cody Zeller and Naji Marshall?
First off, it looks like – for the fourth straight game – we will see the same starting five for New Orleans. That lineup includes Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas, and Herbert Jones.
This type of continuity is a welcome sight to a team and fanbase that has grown accustomed to not having all their starters be healthy at once. However, just because our starters have been a consistent presence in the preseason doesn’t mean we’ve completely dodged the injury bug heading into the upcoming season.
Obviously, the team will continue to be without Trey Murphy III as he recovers from his left meniscus injury. Larry Nance Jr. and Jose Alvarado, who have both also missed the entire preseason, will be on the sideline for the Pelicans preseason finale. According to the team’s comments at media day, the goal is to have both of them back for opening night on October 25th (against the Memphis Grizzlies).
The newest addition to the injury report is Naji Marshall. He injured himself against the Hawks and is now dealing with a bone bruise in his right knee. He’s going to be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Cody Zeller, the team’s only major offseason acquisition, is still listed as day-to-day with a back injury (per ESPN’s injury report database). Like Murphy, Nance, and Alvarado, Zeller has yet to appear in a single preseason game. We will see if that changes against the Magic.
Preseason games don’t count toward the regular season standings, but the Pelicans (0-3) have looked shaky through their first three games. As of Monday, they have the worst point differential of any NBA team competing in the preseason.
With that said, the preseason – in any sport – isn’t the perfect predictor for regular season success. I’ll never forget when the Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the 2008 preseason, only to go 0-16 in the regular season.
In that instance, the perfect preseason didn’t translate to success for the Lions. Hopefully, in this case, the Pelicans’ poor start is a sign of prosperous times in 2023-24.