3 early NBA free agency targets for Pelicans in 2023 NBA offseason

The 2023 NBA Playoffs are just around the corner, and all eyes are on the final games of the Play-In Tournament. Unfortunately for the New Orleans Pelicans, they are already thinking about the offseason since they were eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday.

Despite playing at home, the Pelicans were not a match for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder. After entering halftime with the lead, New Orleans fell 123-118, thanks to Gilgeous-Alexander’s 25 points in the second half.

In the regular season, the Pelicans finished with a 42-40 record, which was good for the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference. This was the second year in a row that they were in the Play-In Tournament.

At one point this year, the team had one of the best records in the league at 26-17. However, Zion Williamson’s injury seriously affected its performance throughout the rest of the campaign.

Now with eyes on the 2023 offseason, the front office could be after some players who can help the Pelicans return to the postseason. From backups to starting-caliber names, there are some free agents who can be impactful right away for New Orleans.

With that being said, here are three players the New Orleans Pelicans should target in the 2023 NBA Free Agency this offseason.

3 early NBA free agency targets for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2023 offseason

3. Terrence Ross, SG/SF – Phoenix Suns

One of the areas that the Pelicans should improve moving forward is 3-point shooting. As a team, New Orleans made 11 shots from beyond the arc per game, which was only N0. 23 in the league.

Also, it attempted just 30.1 shots a night, the second-lowest among all organizations. As for efficiency, the Pelicans made 36.4% of their 3-pointers, good for No. 15.

While C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram are above-average shooters from long-range, the team could use more shooting off the bench.

One potential target is Terrence Ross from the Phoenix Suns. The shooting guard/small forward will test the market after signing with the Suns following a buyout with the Orlando Magic.

For the season, Ross averaged 8.3 points while shooting 43% from the field and 36.8% from beyond the arc.

With Josh Richardson, one of the team’s main shooters, entering free agency, the Pelicans could lose one of their main sparks off the bench. That makes Ross an intriguing and potentially cheaper option for the team. Also, he would bring some veteran experience to complement the younger pieces.

2. Dennis Schroder, PG – Los Angeles Lakers

Another area that the Pelicans should consider upgrading this offseason is point guard. They played most of the season without a true point guard in the starting lineup, often having McCollum fill the position.

The front office should prioritize a player with starting experience who can also fill a backup role. One name that fits the description is Dennis Schroder of the Los Angeles Lakers.

This past season, the veteran guard put up 12.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.5 rebounds plus 0.7 steals a night. He made 41.5% of his field goals, 32.9% of his 3-pointers and 85.7% of his free throws. He achieved those numbers despite playing behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Schroder could be the starting point guard right away. Or, similar to his situation in Los Angeles, he could work as a third or fourth offensive option behind Ingram, McCollum and Williamson once he returns.

At age 29, Schroder could be a solid piece with playoff experience that can help as the team still transitions to become a future title contender.

1. Naz Reid, C – Minnesota Timberwolves

Finally, a position that the Pelicans should prioritize in free agency is the backup center. Jonas Valanciunas is entering the final year of his contract and is 32 years old, which means he could be going in a different direction than the franchise.

Throughout the year, Jaxson Hayes and Willy Hernangómez shared time as backups to Valanciunas. However, neither played more than 13 minutes per game nor averaged over 7.0 points or 5.0 rebounds.

Hayes could be a restricted free agent this summer. Since he has yet to crack a role with the team, New Orleans might let him walk.

If the Pelicans decide to bring a young center to the mix, Naz Reid is perhaps one of the best options. Of the 68 games he played this season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he only started 11 of them. He was the team’s main backup to both Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

Reid recorded 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in just 18.4 minutes a contest. He shot 53.7% from the field and 34.6% from the three-point line.

Given his age and likely cheaper contract, Naz Reid is one of the best options in the 2023 free-agency class for the Pelicans. He brings energy off the bench and could eventually become a starter in the near future.

The post 3 early NBA free agency targets for Pelicans in 2023 NBA offseason appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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