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New Orleans Pelicans vs Oklahoma City Thunder Prediction - Combined starting-5 featuring Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram

New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns
New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns
ANALYST
Modified 31 Dec 2020, 15:59 IST
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The New Orleans Pelicans are on the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night in the NBA. With a 2-2 record in the season, the Pelicans will hope to be more consistent, especially at the offensive end, where they are 29th in the league in offensive rating.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City Thunder who are 1-2 for the season, have been competitive in all three games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is growing as a leader for coach Mark Daigneault.

However, the highlight of this match is the return of Steven Adams who played his first seven seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It will be a homecoming for Adams but without the usual raucous crowd that used to populate Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Combined Starting-5 New Orleans Pelicans vs Oklahoma City Thunder

The New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder have some of the youngest players in the league, and a few of them have shown the potential to become stars.

Only Brandon Ingram has played in the All-Star Game among players 23 years old and younger from these two teams. Others such as Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and possibly even Luguentz Dort could very well become All-Stars in a few years.

On that note, let us have a look at the combined starting-5 for the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Center - Steven Adams (New Orleans Pelicans)

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New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns
New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns

Perhaps the most immovable object in the NBA, Steven Adams is the starting center for our hypothetical combined five team of the New Orleans Pelicans and the Phoenix Suns.

In his first four games for the New Orleans Pelicans, Adams has averaged 8.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, two assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

He gets the nod over the Oklahoma City Thunder's Al Horford, who is the veteran anchor to steady the Thunder’s ship but isn’t nearly as impactful as Adams.

Power Forward - Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)

San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans

In his first four games this season, Zion Williamson has averaged 21.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and two steals per contest while shooting 53.1% from the field in 33.8 minutes per game.

Very few players, if any, can match Williamson’s combination of size, speed and jumping ability.

However, the 20-year old forward is still a work in progress. His assists numbers (only one per game this season) is likely to get better as he learns how to use his teammates.

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Small Forward - Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)

San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram, the reigning Most Improved Player, is actually improving as the season progresses. Despite a dip in performance in his last game, Ingram has shown a playmaker’s mentality.

He leads the New Orleans Pelicans in assists at a career-high 6.5 a night, making better decisions on the floor every game.

With 23.3 points and seven rebounds per game, Ingram is a complete player and one of the brightest young stars in the league.

Shooting Guard - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Thrust into a leadership role with the Oklahoma City Thunder in his third season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is thriving. The 22-year old scored the game-winner in the team’s season opener against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night, a game the Thunder won 109-107.

Gilgeous-Alexander is the Thunder’s most prized possession, and the franchise rewarded him by exercising the fourth-year option on his contract a few days ago. However, the player is yet to exhibit his best form for the Thunder.

Point Guard - George Hill (Oklahoma City Thunder)

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George Hill may be playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the moment, but he is actually auditioning for his future employer. Hill is an asset that the Thunder might use to get another first-rounder from a title contender.

In his two games with the Thunder, Hill has averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

Though his scoring numbers may not be sustainable, he could be a solid contributor to any team that picks him up. At the moment, Hill is the best point guard between the two teams in our combined starting-5.

Also Read: LeBron James' five best birthday games.

Published 31 Dec 2020, 15:59 IST
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