Starter: Nikola Mirotic
Bench: Julius Randle, Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams
The Pelicans probably overpaid for Mirotic by throwing a first round pick in, but unless Chandler Hutchinson is the next Jimmy Butler, I’d say this is working out well for them currently. Mirotic took some time to get acclimated, but he did a great job of neutralizing Al-Farouq Aminu in the playoffs against Portland, and his pick-and-pop threat with Jrue Holiday is strong. He allows the Pelicans to put Anthony Davis at the 5 regularly, and the fit in four-around-one sets with Julius Randle at the 5 is going to be stellar.
Meanwhile, Randle might be an even better fit in the big man timeshare next to Davis than Cousins was. He brings the bully-ball that worked so well for DMC, but is a little bit quicker, and might be a little bit more functional as a defender in containing pick-and-rolls and allowing Davis to roam as a rim protector. As New Orleans continues to strive for up-tempo madness, Randle is going to thrive in getting more transition baskets and creating quicker pick-and-roll possessions with shooters around him in minutes at the 5. This is a match made in heaven for the Pelicans.
We also can’t neglect two of the Pelicans’ best value buys and X-factors for the year — the Williamses, Troy and Kenrich. Troy has shown flashes of capable play as a stretch 4 with Memphis and New York, while Kenrich might have been the player most ready to translate as a team defender at the 4 in last year’s draft class. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Kenrich get rotation minutes, given that he’s nearly 25 already, and he’s really that advanced as a defensive prospect.