Ahead of the 2023-24 NBA season, DK Network is taking an in-depth look at all 30 teams. We’re going over all the big moves from the offseason, predicting the starting lineup, providing a fantasy basketball perspective, looking at relevant odds and assessing season expectations for each franchise. Here’s a look at the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans Pelicans 2023-24 Outlook
Key additions: Jordan Hawkins
The Pelicans added some depth to their backcourt with Hawkins, who is coming off a national championship with UConn. He’s a player who can stretch the floor and has some upside as a 21-year old. We’ll see how much run he gets during the regular season.
Key departures: None
There wasn’t much to move around with this roster, especially since New Orleans didn’t have a clear trade chip to deal. Management likely wants to give this group a few more chances to get to the playoffs at 100% health, which has evaded the team in the last two seasons.
Projected starting lineup
CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas are locks. The question is whether the Pelicans go defensive with Herb Jones or put in a more conventional point guard like Dyson Daniels.
Fantasy basketball player to watch: Zion Williamson
Can the forward stay healthy? Williamson is a difference maker when he’s on the floor, averaging 25.8 points per game for his career. The Pelicans were one game behind the Nuggets for the No. 1 seed on January 3, the day after Williamson got hurt. They would slip to the play-in game as the No. 9 seed without him. That’s the difference the former No. 1 overall pick makes for this group.
Notable odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Win total: 44.5
To make playoffs: Yes -150, No +120
To win West: +2500
To win NBA title: +5000
The entire season hinges on the health of Williamson. The hope is he can stay on the court for a majority of the regular season and the playoffs. If that does happen, the Pelicans believe they can compete for a championship. A more realistic expectation might be to win a playoff series.
If Williamson is in and out of the lineup and dealing with nagging injuries, those expectations get tempered significantly. Making the playoffs, given the strength of the West, would be a big accomplishment. We’ll see if the Pelicans package some of their second-tier players (Jones, Trey Murphy) to add another starter-level guy at the deadline.