Early in the previous season, the New Orleans Pelicans’ astonishing ascent to the top of the Western Conference was derailed by a slew of critical player injuries. Willie Green’s squad continues to endure that dreadfully awful injury luck as 2023–24 rapidly approaches.
Birds’ wings Naji Marshall departed his team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday due to an injury to his right knee, and the club swiftly announced that he wouldn’t be coming back. Even while it is foolish to guess on the precise nature of any medical condition, the fact that Marshall was wheeled to the locker room may be a sign of how serious his injury was.
After defending against a shot in the paint by Onyeka Okongwu of Atlanta, Marshall collapsed. The fourth-year player is shown in replays of the event falling awkwardly with his right leg buckled as he makes contact with the parquet.
Herb Jones also left the game early on Saturday due to a neck injury, although his prognosis for recovery was labeled as doubtful.
Biting injury bug won’t stop Pelicans
Marshall’s injury occurs just as New Orleans has started its 2023–24 preparations without three essential rotation players. Trey Murphy III, a promising third-year wing, will be out until December after surgery to repair a torn meniscus, while Larry Nance Jr. and Jose Alvarado might also miss the start of the regular season with ankle problems.
Despite Brandon Ingram missing the previous month of action due to a toe injury, New Orleans led the Western Conference at 23-12 in late December of last year. However, the Pelicans’ dreams of having a significant playoff impact were dashed when Zion Williamson suffered a hamstring injury in early January and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
It goes without saying that New Orleans would suffer a great deal if this season began without Murphy. It would be disastrous to place Nance, Alvarado, and maybe Marshall next to him since it would significantly reduce New Orleans’ outstanding depth.
Green is nevertheless making an effort to cope with his team’s ailments.
“It is challenging, maybe frustrating at times,” he said in late September. “But we try to shift our focus to what we can control. I try to look at it as much as I can as opportunity. Opportunities for players to step up, opportunities for guys who might not have gotten time, and opportunities overall for our team and our organization.”
If Marshall is out for a long time, Dyson Daniels, a second-round lottery selection, and Jordan Hawkins, a rookie sharpshooter, should get increased playing time.
On Tuesday, New Orleans takes on the Orlando Magic in their last preseason match.