7 New Orleans Pelicans who could win an award in 2023-24

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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CJ McCollum Pelicans
CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

5. CJ McCollum – Sixth Man of the Year (6MOY)

No matter how you slice it, Williamson and Ingram are this team’s two best players. That means you want them playing together as much as possible – alongside players that help maximize their skills. In this case, you want to put as much shooting and defense around them as possible.

McCollum is a great shooter, but his smaller stature (6’3, 190 pounds, per Basketball Reference) makes him a worse defender than both Ingram and Williamson. Ideally, you want Williamson to be the worst defender on the floor. So, you probably want to substitute McCollum with someone who is in the same tier (or better) as a shooter with more defensive upside (someone like Murphy or Hawkins).

McCollum will probably start the season in the opening lineup. But there is a chance that, as time goes on, the Pelicans opt to swap him out for Hawkins or Murphy (when he returns from injury).

If that happens, McCollum’s blend of on-ball/off-ball scoring would make him a great option as a sixth man. Last season, he averaged 20.9 PPG, which was third behind only Williamson and Ingram.

He also falls under the exact player archetype that normally tend to win the 6MOY award (the crafty volume bucket-getter). The only real concern here is that the Pelicans may not move him to the bench before he starts too many games to be seriously considered.