General, he scored 133.5 points per 100 shot attempts, placing him within the high 4 % of small forwards. He additionally held onto the ball, with a turnover price of seven.3 %, placing him within the high eight %. Murphy was second on the crew in steals and in blocks, as New Orleans completed with the league’s sixth-rated protection.
Alongside quantity scorers like Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, the low-usage Murphy is an ideal complement. If these two stars can keep wholesome, Murphy ought to get even higher photographs. And given his enchancment from his rookie yr, the Pelicans have a possible third star.
Herb Jones: Jones proved his standout rookie season was no fluke by going out and primarily replicating his statistics from 2021-22. Whereas accidents restricted him to 66 video games, Jones was inside seven proportion factors of final season’s numbers in discipline purpose, two-point and three-point proportion on barely extra quantity. He upped his assists and rebounds barely (from 2.1 to 2.5, and from 3.8 to 4.1), and shot 0.3 extra free throws per sport.
The encouraging a part of Jones’ season is how good he was after the All-Star break. Jones shot 44.4 % from three-point vary in New Orleans’ closing 23 video games, and the crew was 9.2 factors higher per 100 possessions with Jones on the ground. He was hampered by an ankle damage and a bout of COVID early, however Jones was excellent when wholesome.
The superior stats favored his offense and protection very barely extra in yr two, however Jones was already a helpful participant for the Pelicans. The crew’s protection was their most spectacular high quality final yr, particularly for a crew whose two max contract gamers, Ingram and Williamson, missed 90 video games mixed. And Jones is the crew’s finest defensive participant.
Zion Williamson: There isn’t any query that Williamson is a dominant pressure when he is on the court docket. The important thing phrase is, “on the court docket”. Williamson performed only one sport in 2023, lacking the Pelicans’ final 45 video games after a hamstring damage. For his profession, he is performed 114 out of a potential 315 of his crew’s video games, together with the play-in event and playoffs, each of which he missed completely.
In his rookie yr, a torn meniscus stored him out till January. He was pretty wholesome in his sophomore season, enjoying 61 of 66 video games earlier than a damaged thumb value him the top of the season. He missed the whole thing of his third season. And according to Pelicans insider Jake Madison, some members of the crew “really feel very fed up with Zion”, whether or not it is his reluctance to do offseason exercises with the crew or the common accidents.
He is nonetheless solely 22, the identical age as Joel Embiid was when he first started to shake the damage woes that value him most of his first three seasons. However now that Williamson’s max extension is kicking in, the Pelicans’ persistence is working out. and it is getting costly.
Jaxson Hayes: When New Orleans traded Anthony Davis to Los Angeles, a part of the return was the No. 4 decide within the 2019 draft. They used it on De’Andre Hunter, who the Pelicans then flipped to Atlanta for Didi Louzada, Nickell Alexander-Walker, Herb Jones and middle Jaxson Hayes. Louzada is out of the league, Alexander-Walker has been traded 3 times and Hayes has by no means lived as much as the promise of being the No. 8 decide within the draft.
Final yr, Hayes performed 47 video games, averaging a career-low in factors, minutes, rebounds, blocks and field-goal proportion. Whereas Hayes has unimaginable athletic items, with pace and leaping skill, he merely hasn’t translated them into NBA manufacturing. And he hasn’t helped himself off the court docket.
Hayes acquired three years of probation after a home violence arrest that concerned an altercation with police.