NBA Daily Notes: Pels, Trae-Murray Duo, and Celtics’ Defense

The New Orleans Pelicans’ depth on both ends of the floor is scary good.

Photo by Rusty Jones/AP

Pels’ Big Four and other takeaways (October 22)

  • After totaling 130 points against the Brooklyn Nets in their first game, the New Orleans Pelicans came up with another efficient offensive display in their recent 124-112 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. When talking about the Pelicans, most of the conversations centered around Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum, but we tend to forget the consistency that Jonas Valanciunas brings night in and night out. Valanciunas recorded 30 points and 17 rebounds in the Hornets game, joining Zion, CJ, and Ingram in the group of Pels players who are averaging at least 20 points in their first two games. With their weapons on offense (Big 4) and defense (including the lengthy Herb Jones), the Pelicans are a scary good team when healthy.
  • The Atlanta Hawks scored a 108-98 victory over the Orlando Magic, and the early returns on the Trae Young-Dejounte Murray duo are looking good so far. Playmaking is never a cause for doubt, and they’re both averaging double-digits in assists through two contests. Murray is quickly showing his defensive prowess, as he is actively disrupting the passing lanes (4.5 steals) and just setting the tone for the Hawks at that end of the floor. Young hasn’t shot particularly well, but he’s still getting himself to the free-throw line (7.5 attempts). Of course, their lackluster depth in the second unit is still concerning, but at least they’re getting great returns from their Murray investment.
  • Along with the stellar play of their star wings — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are averaging at least 30 points through two games — the Boston Celtics are still a tough defensive mountain to climb. In their recent 111-104 win over the Miami Heat, the Celtics registered 11 blocks, with three of those coming from combo guard Derrick White. Since arriving at Boston last season, the 6-foot-4 White has been a solid addition to their defense. He’s a very good individual defender, and he can stay in front of quicker guards or leaner wings.
  • Jalen Brunson is the point guard that the New York Knicks have been missing for so long. Brunson is proving to everyone how steady of a playmaker he is, tallying 7.5 assists without a single turnover in his first couple of games for the Knicks.
  • Thanks to a Bradley Beal game-winner, the Washington Wizards survived the Chicago Bulls via a 102-100 victory. Beal finished with 19 in the win, and Kyle Kuzma topscored again with 26. For the Wizards to become playoff contenders, health is an important factor (looking at you Mr. Porzingis), along with potential leaps from their young guns (Hachimura, Gafford, Avdija).
  • Ja. Morant. In the Memphis Grizzlies’ 129-122 win over the Houston Rockets, Morant activated takeover mode, firing 49 points on 65% shooting from the field. The Grizzlies All-Star guard already had 40 after three quarters, and the team banked on a tighter defense in the final period to turn back Jalen Green and the Rockets.

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