The Whiteboard: Trey Murphy and the Pelicans’ embarrassment of riches

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images /

The New Orleans Pelicans beat the Dallas Mavericks without two of their biggest stars, thanks to Trey Murphy III and a surprisingly deep bench.

The Pelicans have gotten off to an impressive 3-1 start to the season but picked up their most important win Tuesday night, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 113-111 without Zion Williamson (hip contusion) or Brandon Ingram (concussion protocol).

The win was a team effort but second-year forward Trey Murphy III was the headliner, scoring 22 points on a perfect 8-of-8 from the field, 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

So far this season, Murphy has hit 13-of-19 from beyond the arc, hitting at least two 3s in all four of the Pelicans games. This came after hitting 38.2 percent of 186 attempts as a rookie. He’s not just a static shooter, although plenty of his makes have come from simple spot-ups in the corner. But he’s also shown the ability to shoot off movement and relocations and running him off screens could bring additional wrinkles to New Orleans’ offense.

Murphy is not yet a threat to shoot off the dribble or create much with the ball in his hands but, at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he’s tall enough that he can shoot over the top of most closeouts. He’s a good finisher and can leverage open space in more ways than just with his shooting and if he develops the ability to just take two or three dribbles to slip a closeout and get into a pull-up jumper or force another rotation he’s going to be a real weapon.

But that’s just the offensive end of the floor. His size and mobility make him versatile on defense and he’s already spent significant possessions this season defending everyone from guards like Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson to bigger wings and bigs like Dorian Finney-Smith, Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk. 538’s RAPTOR estimated him to be nearly a neutral defender which is a very good sign for a rookie.

Trey Murphy III isn’t the only reliable role player for the Pelicans

And Murphy is just one intriguing piece of the Pelicans’ surprising depth.

Against the Mavericks, without Williamson or Ingram, eight different players scored in double-digits. Rookie Dyson Daniels filled the box score with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and a block. Jose Alvarado and Devonte’ Graham combined for 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, with 6 assists off the bench. Larry Nance Jr. is playing fantastic, versatile defense and adding 12.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per 36 minutes. Naji Marshall stepped into the starting lineup on the wing and scored 15 points on just 9 shots,

If the Pelicans are going to make a deep playoff run, it’s going to be driven by their starting lineup and top-end talent — Williamson, Ingram and CJ McCollum. But it’s becoming increasingly clear in this hot start just how functionally deep this team is, loaded with skill and physical versatility that can allow them to deal with a variety of matchups and opponents.

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Jaylen Brown changes course on association with Ye and Donda Academy

Several athletes who had connections with the artist formerly known as Kanye West and his Donda Sports agency received pressure to cut ties with him after his numerous anti-semitic comments over the past few days. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Jaylen Brown initially told The Boston Globe that he would remain with the agency despite Ye’s comments.
  • A day later he released an additional statement on Twitter indicating a change of heart:”In the past 24 hours, I’ve been able to reflect and better understand how my previous statements lack clarity in expressing my stance against recent insensitive public remarks and actions. For that, I apologize. And in this, I seek to be as clear as possible. I have always, and will always, continue to stand strongly against any antisemitism, hate speech, misrepresentation, and oppressive rhetoric of any kind. In light of that, after sharing in conversations, I now recognize that there are times when my voice and my position can’t coexist in spaces that don’t correspond with my stance or my values. And, for that reason, I am terminating my association with Donda Sports.”
  • Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams similarly announced he would cut ties with Donda.
  • Former NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown announced that he would stay on with Donda, continuing in his position as president.

Klay Thompson and Devin Booker: Anatomy of a beef

Klay Thompson was ejected from the Warriors’ 134-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, after jawing with Devin Booker. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Booker and Thompson were going back and forth with trash-talking during the third quarter. According to Booker, Thompson was repeatedly indicating that he had four rings, more than the entire Suns’ organization. Eventually, Booker and Thompson went chest-to-chest and were given double technicals.
  • A few minutes later, Thompson shoved Mikal Bridges after being bumped and was ejected with his second technical.
  • This was the first ejection of Thompson’s entire career.
  • After the game, Booker appeared to minimize the beef saying: “We’re just two competitors. I love Klay Thompson. I have for a really long time. But it’s not going to excuse from us being competitive and talking to each other. I’ve always admired his game, how he plays on both ends of the ball. And obviously, the rings speak for themselves.”

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