The New Orleans Pelicans are loaded with star power, but it could be a trio of less heralded players that make the difference at Disney.
The Pelicans had the most efficient starting lineup in the NBA, led by the foursome of Zion, Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram.
But it’s not always the stars that carry you to victory.
Ask the Chicago Bulls, who took home titles on shots by John Paxson and Steve Kerr. Ask the Wizards, who rode Otto Porter Jr.’s defense to a big playoff win, or even the New Orleans Pelicans, who got 26 points out of Ryan Anderson in a close playoff loss to Golden State.
From Vinnie Johnson to Patty Mills, it’s a time honored tradition for a lesser-known player to step up in the playoffs and possibly steal a game.
With so much focus on the “Big Four” of New Orleans, there might be an opportunity for a Pelicans’ reserve to have a big game or take advantage of a matchup that could give the Pels an edge.
Here are three potential secret weapons the Pelicans will deploy off their bench who could be difference makers down the stretch.
Frank Jackson, Point Guard
Frank Jackson is the prototypical “energy” guy off the bench who can score in bunches, get to the rim and often makes defensive hustle plays that fire up his teammates.
In other words, he sounds like the type of guy who could come off the bench and be a big part of a win.
Jackson’s numbers are down across the board this season after a promising rookie year, but he has still had some big games off the Pelicans’ bench against some of their toughest opponents.
He scored 21 against the Denver Nuggets, had 23 points and five rebounds against the Clippers, and dropped 22 points on the Celtics, which shows he can get it done against some of the NBA’s best teams.
Jackson is the Pelicans’ primary backup point guard and can affect the game in a number of ways. He can get to the hoop and finish, draw fouls against the other team’s guards and play pesky, disruptive defense in spurts against a guy like Ja Morant.
Jackson is physical and strong, and his defense could be a difference maker in the second unit.
His 3-point shooting was up and down all year, but Jackson can get hot and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be the spark that carries the Pelicans to a victory down the stretch.