The Pelicans just pulled off the first blockbuster deal of the summer, and it could have a major impact on the NBA this coming season.
New Orleans sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft.
This caused a serious power shift in the league, and the Pelicans just might’ve gotten the better deal if they play their cards right.
Here are a three reasons the Pelicans are so exciting:
Everyone would be shocked if the Pelicans didn’t select Duke star Zion Williamson with the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Williamson is 6-7, 285 pounds and has a vertical jump reported to be as high as 45 inches. He is a potent mix of size, strength and athleticism that rarely comes around.
NBA fans will surely swarm to see his thunderous dunks and freakish physique at the top level of basketball. Most project him to be a superstar that could be the face of the league for years to come.
If he lives up to even a fraction of the hype he’s generated, New Orleans will have an up-tick in viewership and coverage in 2018-19.
An absurd amount of young talent
Williamson will surely be a big draw for New Orleans, but the major haul it brought in by trading Anthony Davis away puts its potential over the top.
The Pelicans’ most notable acquisitions were Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, who were both selected No. 2 overall in their respective draft classes. Both are lanky, athletic players who can guard multiple positions. Ball was one of college basketball’s most naturally-gifted passers at UCLA, and he could become more of a traditional point guard again alongside a combo guard like Jrue Holiday. His passing abilities will be maximized with an above-the-rim player like Williamson at his disposal, but New Orleans has more to offer.
The Pelicans could still have 24-year-old Julius Randle, who averaged a career-high 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 2018-19. Randle has a player option in 2019-20 but he could come back. Even when playing alongside Davis in lineups last season, Randle showed he could take over and get the team on his back at times with some impressive offensive performances. Williamson has drawn some comparisons to Randle, so combinations of the two could be a nightmare for opposing teams if they play small ball.
Lastly, New Orleans has the No. 4 pick in the draft, which opens a slew of possibilities. Top prospects like Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish will likely be available when the Pelicans are on the clock, increasing the ceiling of the blossoming squad. But teams are also reaching out to inquire about what it would take to trade for the coveted first-round selection. New Orleans is reportedly listening to offers, so it could flip that asset into an experienced veteran, among other things.
There’s simply too much intrigue surrounding the Pelicans to not draw a big crowd, and a new era could be right around the corner.
This is probably obvious, but David Griffin is already killing it as the Pelicans’ new executive vice president of basketball operations.
The former Cavaliers general manager orchestrated the deal that brought Kevin Love in from Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins, and he’s already started out his latest gig with a bang. Griffin was instrumental in Cleveland’s lone championship in 2016, and his experience is just what New Orleans needs in the front office.
But that’s not the only important hiring the Pelicans made this offseason. They also hired former WNBA superstar Swin Cash as their new vice president of basketball operations. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA champion has 15 years of professional basketball experience and will likely play a major role in the franchise’s decision-making moving forward.
The Pelicans failed to provide Anthony Davis with tools to win in the seven seasons they had him, and this new management group already seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to avoiding making the same mistakes.