Naji Marshall wants everyone to know that he's got the backs of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. The New Orleans Pelicans small forward thinks he can play the role of an enforcer to protect his team's top assets from getting targeted by opposing players.
After a tough 104-98 win against the Detroit Pistons on the road Wednesday night, Marshall said that anyone who's got bad intentions against Williamson or Ingram will have to go through him first (via Jim Eichenofer).
Asked if part of his role is to protect teammates like Zion and Brandon Ingram from some overly physical play by opponents that put them in jeopardy, Naji responded, “Definitely. Those are our best players. Anybody mess with them, they’ve got to see me.”
On one occasion in the Pistons game, Marshall even shoved Detroit shooting guard Alec Burks after the latter pulled Williamson to the ground.
Zion Williamson got pulled down by Alec Burks on this play and Naji Marshall did not like it 👀pic.twitter.com/gaUYSOy3tU
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 8, 2022
Marshall was not all about just protecting his teammates, though, in that game, as he played a crucial role in the Pelicans' win. He finished with 17 points off the bench, including two points from a crucial put-back near the end of regulation. Marshall entered the game averaging just 6.9 points per game, so his contributions were very much welcome for New Orleans. The Pelicans were paced by Williamson, who scored 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the floor to go with 10 rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes.
Ingram was not available against the Pistons, as he missed his fifth game in a row due to a toe injury.