Starter: Jrue Holiday
Bench: Ian Clark, Trevon Blueitt (Two-Way)
When the New Orleans Pelicans dealt the rights to Nerlens Noel for Holiday back in 2013, they wanted the version of Holiday they got last season. Holiday’s been through a lot in New Orleans, from family illness to stress fractures, but he was brilliant last season, averaging 19.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game last year. He is the one who unlocks a ton of what New Orleans wants to do offensively — his size and team defense skills allow the Pels to play a lot of three-guard lineups, and his playmaking ability is likely to mitigate any struggles we see from Payton and Jack in their new situations. The image of Holiday punting the Blazers into the sun is most of the reason the team is being considered a potential top-four seed in the loaded West.
He’ll be supported by E’Twaun Moore in a lot of lineups where he takes duties at the one, but Clark should factor in a bit more this season. Clark shot 31.8 percent from 3 after wrecking shop off the bench on the Warriors, and he really seemed to struggle in increased minutes. The hope is that he should be a little more ready to help out this year, as he’ll have a few more opportunities to jump in with the Pelicans figuring to run more three-guard lineups. He is also a pretty successful team defender, one of the recurrent themes of this new-found depth the Pelicans now have.