Additions: Zion Williamson, J.J. Redick, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Derrick Favors, Jaxson Hayes
Departure: Anthony Davis
It’s time for a new era in New Orleans as Anthony Davis has left for Los Angeles while hyped talent Zion Williamson will take over as the lead face of the franchise. New Orleans lucked out in getting the number one overall pick, something many thought a team like the New York Knicks or Cleveland Cavaliers would get. AD’s tenure with New Orleans had been up and down recently, with the Pelicans not advancing as far as the conference finals during his entire seven- year stay. Now with Zion and the new Lakers transplants, the Pelicans move forward in trying to win a championship with a new collection of players.
Loaded with a generational talent in Williamson, and a rising supporting cast which includes former Lakers #2 pick Lonzo Ball, other high Lakers pick in Brandon Ingram, and rising player Josh Hart as well from that NO-LA trade, the Pelicans are in compete-now mode. This team got a win-win situation with the trade and draft, as they have their players of the future and several of the Lakers’ first round picks extending well into the 2020s to stockpile talent.
With this team in the loaded West, expect modest results for now. Because of how young and inexperienced most of the team is when it comes to the playoffs, getting a high seed is not likely right now. However, the Pelicans do have the capacity to sneak in as a late seed and be a potential sleeper if things are clicking. That all depends on how quickly the chemistry builds and how well the players associate with coach Alvin Gentry’s system. Nonetheless, this team should be exciting to watch, hence being placed on Opening Night against Kawhi-less defending world-champion Toronto Raptors for Zion’s debut. Another great sight will be watching the Lakers and Pelicans play this season, as the past and present/future of both teams will clash, most likely creating hype and headlines before the big meeting.
Aside from the major blockbuster trade that shook up this team over the past offseason, there have been several key additions as well. Veteran shooting guard J.J Redick comes to NOLA from the Philadelphia 76ers and provides excellent shooting from downtown. Another notable addition is the power forward Derrick Favors, who was traded from the Jazz. Finally, there is rookie center Jaxson Hayes, who was acquired via a draft-day trade. Redick, Favors, and Jrue Holiday are among the veterans who can lead this team by example. A great supporting cast returns, including E’Twaun Moore and Jahlil Okafor.
Though Davis’s departure undoubtedly leaves a void in this team, the future looks promising in the Big Easy. AD’s rocky end to his tenure with NOLA was filled with emotional ups and downs, and quite frankly his dying desire to play for the team. The Pelicans can now move forward with their heads high and devoid of any AD trade rumor drama, which had been circulating around the NBA and hanging over the team for much of last season. The Pelicans are equipped for success in the 2020s, and though results may not come quickly, it’s understandable that all good teams take a while to gel and become a well-oiled machine. It’s time for an exciting era of basketball in the Crescent City.