The New Orleans Pelicans were among the league's best during the 2022-23 season on January 2, 2023, when they took on the Philadelphia 76ers on the road. They entered the night with a 23-13 record, and Zion Williamson was playing some of the best basketball of his career, as the Pelicans looked like they were making the leap to true contention. However, during that fateful day, Williamson went down with what ended up being a season-ending injury, and the Pelicans' season, which started out so well, ended on a play-in tournament heartbreak.

But the start of the 2023-24 season should renew the hopes of every Pelicans fan, as Williamson should soon return from his long-term absence — even after a tumultuous offseason marred by off-court troubles. In particular, one of Williamson's teammates, Trey Murphy, is buzzing about the eventual return of the team's best player.

Speaking with Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN, Murphy expressed just how much he was looking forward to Zion Williamson's triumphant return to the court, and warned the league about the mindset the 23-year old highflying southpaw has as he works his way back.

“I've been talking to Z a good amount, he's very excited for this season. He definitely has a chip on his shoulder,” Murphy said. “It's tough, but I know he'll come back with a vengeance.”

A healthy Zion Williamson (which is oxymoronic at this point in his career) should elevate the Pelicans from a middling playoff-caliber team, to one of the best in the conference. That's how good Williamson is. As Trey Murphy pointed out as well, Williamson was on a tear before he suffered the injury that knocked him out of the season, averaging 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists across 29 games.

Still, Williamson's absence helped forge the Pelicans roster in the fire, helping them stay prepared amid the uncertainty of their star man's status.

“We definitely had enough talent on our team to compete and we showed that. So our biggest thing as a group was the phrase, ‘next man up'… and I feel like we portrayed that throughout the year,” Murphy added.

The Pelicans will certainly be a team to watch out for in the loaded Western Conference, especially when Trey Murphy himself is beginning to look like a burgeoning star.