At long last, the New Orleans Pelicans begin their season today on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies (at 8 PM EST). But who will we have in uniform to tip off the 2023-24 season?
Barring any sudden changes (knock on wood that doesn’t happen), for the first time in 296 days, the Pelicans will have Zion Williamson in the starting lineup for a regular season game. The last time this happened, he left their January 2nd clash against the Philadelphia 76ers with a strained hamstring. As many of you are well aware, he did not return for the rest of the season.
Along with Williamson, the other four Pelicans who made up the rest of the starting lineup in the preseason – Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, Herbert Jones, and CJ McCollum – will all be good to go against the Grizzlies.
Larry Nance Jr. (ankle) and Cody Zeller (back) missed the entire preseason nursing their respective injuries. However, they are no longer listed on the Pelicans injury report (per ESPN), so expect them to be available for action.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Jose Alvarado. After missing the final 20 games of last season, the play-in tournament game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the FIBA Basketball World Cup with a stress reaction in his tibia, Alvarado was again setback after injuring his ankle during a workout in September.
After missing the entire preseason with this new injury, Alvarado was aiming to return for the season opener. But on Tuesday, we were notified that he incurred yet another setback and would reevaluated in two weeks.
Naji Marshall and Trey Murphy III will also be out for the season opener. Marshall injured his right knee in the Pelicans’ third preseason game (against the Atlanta Hawks). And Murphy is still recovering from the surgery he had on his left meniscus in the offseason. He will miss the first month or so of the season.
For the Grizzlies, we’ve already mentioned that they will be missing former Pelican Stephen Adams for the entire season. Ja Morant will also begin the first of his 25-game suspension tonight. Along with those two stalwarts, Brandon Clarke (achilles) and Santi Aldama (ankle) will also be out.