What Does the New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup Look Like for the 2021–22 Season?

Published 09/14/2021, 12:07 PM EDT
Mar 21, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reacts with guard Josh Hart (3) and forward Zion Williamson (1) in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


New Orleans Pelicans are coming off a free agency which saw them lose three of their starters. This has obviously been with the motive of going younger with the team. Along with getting a better overall center for the team. The team traded Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams for Jonas Valanciunas at the beginning of August. As compared to Adams, Valanciunas is a better offensive player in terms of stats.

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Valanciunas shoots a steady 36% from beyond the arc while Adams rarely even attempts a 3 in a game. They have brought in Devonte’ Graham, who was an exciting prospect in the Hornets. However, he lost his starting spot to Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball and will look to maximize this opportunity.

Here’s what the Pelicans starting lineup might look like with these changes.

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New Orleans Pelicans’ starting lineup (Prediction)

Guards

Shooting Guard: Nickeil Alexander-Walker/Josh Hart

Mar 4, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) defends Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) in the fourth quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

After the departure of Eric Bledsoe, the Pelicans have yet not found a permanent substitute for his position. Both Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart have shown sparks of starter potential in last season. Hart is a defensive beast, while Walker is more athletic and offensively skilled. So, depending on the plans of the head coach on their approach as a team, he would decide who would start among mainly these two guards.

Point Guard: Devonte’ Graham

Devonte’ Graham arrives in New Orleans after an injury caused him to lose his starting spot on the Hornets roster. Due to his injury, LaMelo Ball was given the opportunity to start, and he made the most of that opportunity. Graham has shown that he is skilled at playmaking and shooting from beyond the arc. He would be a key addition to the additional offense of this team.

Forwards

Small Forward: Brandon Ingram

Dec 18, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) drives while defended by Milwaukee Bucks forwards Khris Middleton (22) and D.J. Wilson (5) in the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Ingram is a former All-Star. He is the primary offense and has the most ball-handling responsibilities in this team. He averaged a steady 23.8 points per game in both the seasons he has been with the Pelicans.

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Power Forward: Zion Williamson

Jan 15, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks to score a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, the most important player on this roster for them to have any chance at qualifying for the playoffs. The All-Star Starter averaged 27 points and 7 rebounds a game last season. He has a 60.4% career average field goal percentage and is a monster in defence. He is the central figure around whom they have built this roster.

Center: Jonas Valanciunas

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Jonas Valanciunas was a regular starter for the Memphis Grizzlies last season. However, they traded him for Steven Adams and Bledsoe at the start of the free agency. He averaged approximately 17 points and 12 rebounds a game last season. His size and potential from beyond the arc make him an inside-outside threat for the Pelicans.

What does this mean for the New Orleans Pelicans?

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The Pelicans missed out on the play-in tournament by two wins in the regular season. This shows that there is a need for consistency in the performances of the potential and current all-star players on this team. Now that the roles of the players in the team will be fairly clear, hopefully, there will be better chemistry on the court.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

159 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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