The NBA’s regular season opener will be missing the league’s premiere names, but it’s not missing the talent.
The New Orleans Pelicans tip off the NBA regular season tonight against the defending champions, the Toronto Raptors.
While there will be no Zion Williamson after he underwent knee surgery on a torn meniscus, which will sideline the Pelicans forward six-to-eight weeks, the New Orleans Pelicans will still roll out a cast of new players.
We could see the debut of eight new Pelicans: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, JJ Redick, Derrick Favors and Nicolò Melli.
Even without Williamson, New Orleans is filled with promising roster talent that will challenge how the coaching staff will manage the rotation. It’ll be hard to find the right amount of playing time for all the new and veteran players. Tonight will also allow us to look at how the offseason and preseason hype surrounding the Pelicans transfers to the regular season.
They will face Toronto, who is also without one of their premiere names. They will not have their Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard after he signed to the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason.
The Raptors recently signed forward Pascal Siakam to a four-year, $130 million contract extension. Siakam is coming off a career-best season, where he averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
Toronto returns other key players from their 2019 championship run in Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet.
So the NBA opening night is without “big” names. However, it’ll be a fresh look at how these two teams can adjust without Williamson and Leonard.
The Pelicans will get Williamson back and they will roll with their band of new acquisitions, while the Raptors are moving forward with Siakam.
Game time for New Orleans vs. Toronto is tonight at 7 p.m.