When the New Orleans Pelicans tip off against the Chicago Bulls at the top of the hour, they’ll be without a key component.
Larry Nance Jr., who hyperextended his left knee against the Indiana Pacers, will miss his first game of the season.
Willie Green says Larry Nance (left knee hyperextension) is out tonight.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) November 9, 2022
Green said Nance tried going through shootaround and couldn’t. Team will give him some rest and re-evaluate him tomorrow.
Fortunately, the reserve big man avoided major injury as imaging showed no structural damage, so the hope is he’ll be able to return soon.
With no Nance against the Bulls, though, who will Willie Green trust to fill those important minutes tonight?
The Pelicans have been most effective defensively when Larry is on the floor, posting a team-best 105.3 defensive rating in his minutes. (New Orleans’ defensive rating when he’s off the floor? 113.6.)
In an ideal world, the replacement would be Jaxson Hayes. The fourth-year man has the all the ability in the world but inconsistency has plagued his career.
Willy Hernangomez is another option but lacks the versatility to play in switch-heavy schemes.
Perhaps going small, similar to how the L.A. Clippers operate, could be the choice. This route would give Dyson Daniels an opportunity to crack the rotation as the Pelicans could attempt to guard the lane by committee. There’s a load of athleticism and length available to offset not having a center on the floor from among Trey Murphy, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones and Naji Marshall.
Whichever direction Green chooses, it could very well decide the outcome against the Bulls.
For more on tonight’s matchup, please give our preview a read.
Let’s Geaux Pels!
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (5-5) at Chicago Bulls (6-6)
When: November 9, 2022, 7:00 p.m. CT
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, League Pass
Where to listen: WRNO 99.5
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