The 2021-22 NBA season will attempt to be as close to a normal NBA season as possible after two years playing through a pandemic. The COVID situation in the United States has not improved as much as expected, but the league expects to get a full 82 games in while pushing for its players, coaches and staff to get vaccinated.
DKNation will be going through all 30 teams ahead of the season, looking at how the roster shapes up for the 2021-22 campaign. Here we take a look at the New Orleans Pelicans, who look to compete for a playoff spot with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and a host of young players with potential.
New Orleans Pelicans 2021-22 Outlook
Key additions: Devonte’ Graham, Trey Murphy, Garrett Temple, Tomas Satoransky
The Pelicans added a lot of guards during the offseason, a somewhat surprising development considering Williamson may handle the ball more often than most of these players. The deal for Graham was not great, but Murphy was a great draft pick given his fit with the team. Temple and Satoransky are good veteran rotation pieces.
Key departures: Lonzo Ball
This is a big blow for New Orleans, especially on the defensive end. Ball was starting to figure things out with the Pelicans and should be phenomenal in Chicago. He leaves a big void as a primary perimeter defender and ball-handler, something which won’t be easy to replace. It’ll be up to guys like Satoransky, Graham and Kira Lewis Jr. to step up in Ball’s absence.
The Pelicans are entering Year 3 since trading Anthony Davis and it’s time for some of the players involved in the side deals of that trade to step up. Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are two players in particular who need to contribute. Williamson and Ingram are the anchors of the team, but the other guys need to step up if this team hopes to make the playoffs.
Fantasy basketball player to watch: Kira Lewis Jr.
Lewis Jr. was an exciting lottery prospect when the Pelicans drafted him, but barely saw the floor in his career. With Ball gone, it’ll be Lewis Jr.’s show for the most part at the point guard position. The Pelicans play fast, so expect the Alabama product to see a big uptick in usage and production. He’s going to get assists playing with Williamson and Ingram but Lewis Jr.’s calling card in college was scoring. Can he do enough to merit a spot in DFS and fantasy lineups as the season goes on?