The New Orleans Pelicans’ quest for a second straight playoff berth fell short in the play-in tournament, but the team still won 42 games to post its first winning record since the 2017-18 season. Zion Williamson was named an All-Star for the second time in three seasons after averaging 26.0 points per game but was limited to 29 games due to injury. Brandon Ingram posted career-best marks of 24.7 points and 5.8 assists per contest but played in only 45 games, leaving veteran guard CJ McCollum as the de facto leader of the offense after averaging 20.9 points and 5.7 assists in his first full season with the Pelicans. Trey Murphy III and Jonas Valančiūnas each posted better than 14 points a night, while Herbert Jones, Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado — all either 24 or 25 years old — made developmental steps forward. While prolonged absences to the team’s two highest-scoring players impacted the offense, New Orleans made up for it by rating as the sixth-best defensive unit, one that finished ninth in the NBA in opponent points per game.
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