The Heat made the NBA Finals last year, while the Pelicans failed to make the playoffs. Over the offseason, both sides tied down their young talents in Bam Adebayo and Brandon Ingram to renewed deals as the two players signed max contracts.
Stan Van Gundy, the newly appointed coach for New Orleans, got off to a good start with his young team as they beat the Toronto Raptors in their season opener. The Miami Heat, who are favorites to win the match, lost to the Orlando Magic in their first game, which makes things more interesting.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Miami Heat Prediction: A starting five featuring veterans and young talent alike
The New Orleans Pelicans are one of the most impressive young teams in the NBA right now. They boast an exciting young core of Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Lonzo Ball. Stan Van Gundy's coaching has had a positive impact on the team so far, and the veteran presence of Eric Bledsoe and JJ Redick made a difference in their last game against the Raptors.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, are counting on their winning formula from last year. They are led by Jimmy Butler, who proved doubters wrong and came out as a superstar last year. Bam Adebayo is arguably one of the top five centers in the league and the Heat also have some young blood in Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn.
If the Heat manage to assert their dominance, or if the Pelicans pull off an upset remains to be seen. Let's have a look at the combined starting five from both these teams.
Point Guard - Lonzo Ball (New Orleans Pelicans)
Lonzo Ball has been in the news this past offseason for several reasons. His younger brother, LaMelo Ball, was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Hornets, while LiAngelo Ball was picked up by the Detroit Pistons. More importantly, Lonzo did not sign an extension with the Pelicans.
Despite scoring a respectable 38% from beyond the arc last season, Ball's 3-point shot fell to 28% in the bubble, something he would plan on improving on this season.
His excellent basketball IQ and great chemistry with Zion Williamson make him a deadly point guard on the Pelicans roster. Ball also had a great first match this year, splashing 50% of his threes in a performance he should continue to replicate.
Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe (New Orleans Pelicans)
Eric Bledsoe arrived at the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason along with Steven Adams, as part of a four-team trade, filling the void for Jrue Holiday, who went to Milwaukee. Bledsoe averaged 15 points per game last year and also featured on the second All-NBA Defensive team.
From what we've seen of Stan Van Gundy's system for the Pelicans so far, Bledsoe has been able to fit in with the side perfectly. He knocked down 18 points in the season opener and did seem to be enjoying this new role for New Orleans.