Despite starting the 2021-22 season 1-12 and missing Zion Williamson for the whole season, the New Orleans Pelicans challenged the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Some bright spots were rookies Trey Murphy III, who scored 14 points in the play-in game against the Los Angeles Clippers, and Jose Alvarado’s consistent pesky defense on star point guard Chris Paul.
Murphy and Alvarado are both expected to see at least some time as part of the Pelicans’ star-studded squad in the 2022 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. It’s unclear just how much time these NBA “veterans” will play, along with fellow “veteran” Naji Marshall, but it will be great to see them out there no matter what. There are also a pair of rookies to watch in No. 8 pick Dyson Daniels and second-round pick EJ Liddell.
Thus, these are the three reasons why Pelicans fans must be hyped for NBA Summer League in Vegas.
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3.Trey Murphy III
Entering last season, the expectations for Trey Murphy III were not at a high level. He was selected at No. 17 as the man who could address the perimeter shooting woes of the Pelicans, and this turned out to be a brilliant move for the franchise. It was a slow start for Murphy as he did not score in double digits until the 51st game of the season. With more shot attempts and a higher usage rate, Murphy can dominate this summer in the playing time he does get.
2. The rooks
It was terrific for New Orleans to select a facilitator and point guard to surround the nucleus led by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Dyson Daniels will have the Summer League competition to enhance his playmaking and defensive prowess, two integral facets that will earn him substantial minutes for the following season.
Daniels will be a threat on both ends of the floor with his length and versatile stature. As he progresses and matures in the league, the critical part will be his quick decision-making and methodical approach.
The Pelicans also might have picked one of the steals of the draft in EJ Liddell with the No. 41 selection. Many expected Liddell to go in the first round, even as high as the teens, but instead he dropped into the 40s. The Ohio State product was one of the best players in college basketball last season and could potentially be a contributor from the start. A good Summer League stint would increase his chances on him.
1. Jose Alvarado
Fan favorite Jose Alvarado probably won’t play all that much in Vegas, but this tourney will still be another opportunity to watch his ferocious defense on these young guards. His fearlessness and eagerness to contain his man and snatch the ball from them is a guarantee, but his offensive repertoire must be intensified. When teams start formulating strategies to mitigate his strengths from him, Alvarado must have alternatives to stay on the floor.
The determination and grit on every possession will never plummet, but he must add a reliable outside shot to lessen the chances of his man helping on Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram. Moreover, point guards in this era must also have the mentality of attacking the rim and putting pressure on the interior defense. Gone are the days of being solely a passer, so Jose Alvarado must maximize however many minutes he gets in this Summer League event as a place to lead the offensive charge of the Pelicans squad.
For an organization with a great core and its plethora of future draft capital, there is a lot of reason to be excited about the New Orleans Pelicans. Las Vegas Summer League will provide an opportunity for this franchise to show off its bright future.