The New Orleans Pelicans may have changed their trajectory in the space of one week. The Pelicans, who have made the NBA Playoffs just seven times in 17 years as the New Orleans Hornets and Pelicans combined, traded centre Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers early in the week.
Days later, the Pelicans selected Duke University’s Zion Williamson as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. In the space of a few days, the Pelicans went from losing their best player to adding several good pieces with the trade and drafting Williamson plus two other potential stars.
Is Zion Williamson an upgrade on Anthony Davis?
Williamson spent just one season at Duke and was regarded as a future NBA Draft No. 1 pick even before he had played college basketball.
Williamson is a power forward/small forward, so the Pelicans will need another big down low to replace Davis.
He does have the potential to score more points than Davis. In 33 games at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points a game and 8.9 rebounds. He is NBA ready and should start the season as the New Orleans Pelicans’ starting forward.
Davis made no secrets about wanting to leave the New Orleans Pelicans. He tried to flex his muscle prior to the NBA trade deadline and force through a move to the Lakers. The Pelicans held firm when they didn’t get a deal that benefitted them. Now, four months on, New Orleans not only got the deal they wanted from the Lakers, but they drafted an elite player with a high ceiling.
How will the New Orleans Pelicans look next season?
NBA insiders claim the Lakers gave up too much to land the high priced Davis. Not only is Davis a player who often finds himself on the sidelines injured, but the Lakers have thinned out their depth by trading for him.
One NBA analyst wrote following the Davis trade that the Lakers may find it difficult to add role players to the team to fill out the squad.
The Pelicans must be laughing after getting the best of one of the most legendary teams in the NBA. New Orleans landed Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart from LA. Two of the three were starters for the Lakers last season.
Ball was a former NBA Draft No. 2 pick and after two seasons, the Lakers dealt the 21-year-old away as if he was the 22nd pick. Ball’s addition and youth give the New Orleans Pelicans another player that can grow and develop in the Big Easy.
The Pelicans’ future got even brighter after selecting Williamson first overall in the NBA Draft. They took athletic big man Jaxson Hayes from Texas at No. 8. At No. 17 selection, the New Orleans Pelicans drafted Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
In one week, the Pelicans changed their trajectory. Of course, they have drafted players on potential and need these newbies to fulfil the expectations management has for them.
Going into the season, the New Orleans Pelicans will be the NBA Western Conference team to watch. Can Williamson and company turn the franchise into a winner in 2019-20? Things can only get better.