With Multiple Options on the Wing, Naji Marshall’s Pelicans Future Hinges on Finding Consistency

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans’ excellent wing play factors into their success as much as anything else. Their versatile skillsets create options on both ends, from Brandon Ingram’s scoring to Herb Jones’ defense to Trey Murphy’s spacing. We shouldn’t overlook Naji Marshall’s contributions this season, as his offensive progress allows him to punish defenses more than he ever could before.

Marshall adds to the Pelicans’ treasure trove of defensive wings, harboring the responsibility of defending the opposing team’s primary wing scorer for many of his minutes. He slides with offensive players smoothly, his quick feet and fluid hips allowing him to stick with smaller, quicker players and his length buoying his matchups versus larger opponents.

Naji Marshall Per 36 Minute Stats

Though he can make plays with his length off the ball, he’s a bit inconsistent, especially defending closeouts. He’ll lose his assignment at times, struggling against players who sprint all around the floor. Some of his gambles can result in turnovers, though, and playing with Jones and Dyson Daniels gives some leeway given their excellent off-ball defense.

With Jones on the floor, Marshall’s on-ball presence lets Jones roam off of the ball where he dominates. In the 173 minutes Marshall and Jones shared the floor, the Pelicans’ defensive rating is a staggering 106.9. For context, the league-best Minnesota Timberwolves’ defensive rating this year is 108.9.

Last season, Marshall shot 30.3% from three; he’s up to 37.6% this year on similar volume. That added spacing opens up other options for Marshall’s offense, as defenses can’t ignore him on the perimeter as easily.

A jack of all trades, Marshall’s best offense comes as an advantage attacker. In early offense and against a tilted defense, Marshall punishes late rotations and slower players with his solid handling and passing. His confidence is an important trait, as Marshall will always attack the rim and look to make plays regardless of how well he’s playing. 

That playmaking skill connects the Pelicans’ offensive stars together; Marshall swings the ball quickly on the perimeter and pushes aggressively in transition. He’s a capable secondary playmaker in the halfcourt, operating simple pick-and-roll action and finding laydown passes off of his drives.

On a team as star-heavy, role players rarely exist in the spotlight. They’re a crucial part of the championship puzzle, though, and should receive credit as such. The Pelicans are the Pelicans in large part because of their depth on the wing and Marshall is a major contributor to that. 

Analysis by Ben Pfeifer


5 thoughts on “With Multiple Options on the Wing, Naji Marshall’s Pelicans Future Hinges on Finding Consistency

  1. What’s up with Trey Murphy? Was there a reason for his DNP on Saturday? Has he lost his place in the rotation? Does he look fully healthy since he came back, or is health / physical fitness contributing to his recent offensive struggles?

    1. We haven’t been given any detailed information about Trey, but I would imagine that his tendinitis is still a factor. He hasn’t looked like himself outside of that amazing finish the other night.

  2. I love all of these puff pieces
    So here are some facts:
    1. The Pels are not a young team. OKC is a young team; SA is a young team; Orlando is a young team. Val is 32, McCollum is 32, BI is in his 8th year in the league
    2. The Pels have plenty of wings who can shoot if given a wide open shot, but precious few wings who can create off the dribble and finish at the rim.
    3. The next assist that Naji gets will be his first assist; he makes Kevin McHale look like a willing passer.
    4. We live in an era of offensive efficiency, not defensive efficiency. Offenses are operating at a historic level. Willie hates that. He needs to get over it.
    5. Naji needs to go.

    1. If they aren’t extending him then maybe they can trade him for a 2nd round pick as part of some kind of three team trade unless they think he is crucial to a deep playoff run this season and don’t care if he walks for nothing in return.

  3. Naji Marshall’s possible impact on the Pelicans’ future is a fascinating topic. As the team considers several choices, the need for consistency becomes critical. It piques interest in how AI integration in player performance statistics might help find patterns and unlock the key to ongoing excellence. Embracing modern technologies could be the missing link in maximizing Marshall’s contributions and securing the Pelicans’ success.

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