On Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans will have both of their most productive 3-point shooters from last season in the lineup.
CJ McCollum scored 20 points in his return Wednesday after missing 12 games due to a collapsed lung.
Trey Murphy, who has yet to play this season, is on track to make his regular-season debut in Friday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. Murphy tore the meniscus in his left knee in September. The 23-year-old forward was a full participant in practice Thursday.
While Pelicans coach Willie Green said Murphy will be listed as questionable against the Spurs, Murphy confirmed on the social media platform X that he will play.
Murphy’s left knee injury caused him to miss 19 games. The Pelicans posted a 10-9 record without him.
The Pelicans drafted Murphy with the 17th pick in 2021. Murphy averaged 5.4 points per game as a rookie. Last season, he upped his scoring average to 14.5 points per game on impressive shooting splits (48.4% from the floor and 40.6% from 3).
Murphy hit 202 3-pointers, which was the second-most on the team behind McCollum.
Murphy, who finished runner-up in the slam dunk contest in February, also showed an impressive ability to finish at the rim. He shot 74% inside 4 feet, according to Cleaning the Glass.
This season, the Pelicans rank 25th in 3-point attempts (30.9) and 18th in 3-point percentage (35.5). They are making the sixth-fewest 3s per game (11.0) of any team. The return of McCollum and Murphy should help New Orleans climb in all of those categories.
McCollum went 3 of 8 from 3-point land in Wednesday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Rookie Jordan Hawkins shot 3 of 8 from distance as well.
Hawkins, the 14th pick in last summer’s draft, has converted 53 3-pointers this season, which is 22 more than the next-closest rookie (Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder).
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, who ranks second in the NBA in paint scoring, will be surrounded with more outside shooting than at any previous point in his Pelicans career.
The Pelicans have two more games before they face the Sacramento Kings on Monday in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals. They play the Spurs on Friday and the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. McCollum will not travel with the team to Chicago; instead, he will fly Sunday to Sacramento and meet the team there.
It is unclear if the Pelicans plan to play Murphy on Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back.