When the New Orleans pelicans jumped six places to clinch the NBA draft pick in 2019, they received the best gift for choosing the 6'7, 275-pound Zion Williamson tank. The team was no longer attached to Anthony Davis, arming his way to Los Angeles, force in hand. With their chance of the ping-pong ball draw, the Pelicans have become a team with a new face.
The question now is, how do they build around this? The good news is that they have plenty of options, thanks to the wealth of prospects and future choices that they have received from the Lakers in Davis Trading.
Williamson is a player that the NBA has never seen before. He is part of the LeBron James group, Charles Barkley, although his most superficial comparison is that of Rodney Rogers. He was the best player in the history of college basketball, a transcendent talent that will make Pelicans more relevant than they thought after exchanging their all-time best player at the LA Lakers.
But to build well around him, the new general manager of the Pelicans, David Griffin, must answer these three questions.
1. Is Jrue Holiday part of the future?
"[Davis is] as 90% of the reason for my stay, "said Holiday to reporters at the end of January after Davis had requested an exchange. "It's a talent that happens once in a generation. A 7 feet who can do everything at his level. "
This talent is now gone and has been replaced by another. But what does that mean for the New Orleans floor?
Holiday has signed a five-year contract worth $ 131 million in 2017, of which it has three years and $ 77.8 million remaining. He turned out to be one of the best two-way guards in the NBA, but he's also just turned 29.
Keeping or exchanging holidays determines the pace at which pelicans progress. If they keep their holidays, they are trying to do it now. If they exchange, it is prudent to collect. New Orleans is completely rebuilt around Williamson and is in no hurry to do it overnight.
There would be no shortage of suitors for Holiday on the market. Among the many teams that could use his services include Phoenix, Orlando, Detroit, Indiana, Minnesota and Chicago.
In addition, Griffin could choose to keep Holiday and rework with playoff-ready training for Williamson's rookie year.
2. To keep or not to keep the choice n ° 4
Many consider this year's class to have three players (Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett), but there are still gems hidden in the pool. Jarrett Culver, De'Andre Hunter, Darius Garland and Coby White are popular selections among many false shots after the first three picks, and the Pelicans would be well-advised to add these talents alongside Williamson in the long run.
But what are Griffin's options if he does not like any of these players? He has options and they are fun:
- Pelicans could negotiate. It took choice # 5 and a future first-round pick for Dallas to win two spots and choose Luka Doncic in last year's draft. What is the price to go to No. 4? The consensus was that this year's class is not as busy as last year's class. Are the numbers 8 and 10 of Atlanta enough to enter the top five? New Orleans could use these choices to select Cam Reddish and Kevin Porter. It's scary. The other trading partners could be the Celtics, armed with three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 20 and 22), and the Hornets, who sit at choice # 12, but who will have a very interesting first unprotected round in 2020 if Kemba Walker leaves Charlotte this summer.
- They could also trade the choice for the current talent. It makes sense if the brass Griffin and Pélicans decide to become competitive immediately. Will Holiday, Ingram, number 4 and an active future of the Lakers turn into Bradley Beal and number 9? Has Gordon Hayward shown enough that the last two years, $ 67 million, will bring him a flyer? Could Timberwolves interest pelicans in Andrew Wiggins and other plays? What about someone like Aaron Gordon of Olando, as suggested by The Bird Writes.
- Or of course, pelicans can keep the choice. They would have the choice between Culver, Hunter, Garland, White or any other candidate available on the board. History has shown that if you can not build a great team as a free agent, the best way to create a candidate is to go through the rough draft. New Orleans has two of the top four picks in a very heavy class that should have scattered sleepers. Keeping the pick would not be a mistake if an over-exchange is not on the table.
3. What kind of free agents will New Orleans pursue and when?
Williamson may have shown that he was not afraid to shoot all three games in a season against Duke, but he also did not inspire confidence that he would one day become a stunner. This means that all the other players on the ground must be threatened by the distance, before New Orleans decides whether their plan is to win now or wait for the future, when all the Lakers draft picks will come in. stake.
With players like Williamson and Lonzo Ball, it makes sense that Pelicans are a top flight team that loves to have fun, run and shoot. With two dynamic game designers on the field, New Orleans, not Los Angeles, could be the next Showtime team. How does Brandon Ingram fit into the image once back from his deep vein thrombosis? It's up to Griffin and Alvin Gentry to understand it.
The Pelicans currently plan to have a $ 22.5 million cap to recruit free agents this summer, as well as their mid-room exception of $ 4.5 million. Their composition, as currently constructed, includes the groups Holiday, Ball, Ingram, Josh Hart, Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore.
Griffin's most important task will be to rely on Williamson's strengths – playing the game and completing the transition, intimidating defenders with strength and elite athleticism for a player of his size – will be the most challenging task. important. He can not go wrong by adding fencers, especially those who serve multiple purposes, such as Brook Lopez and Terrence Ross.
There are other realities showing different interpretations of a New Orleans team built around Zion Williamson. A reality is a playoff-ready team, anchored by veterans giving Williamson the space to become a contender. The other is a young team who learns on the fly and has fun at every step.
And then, there is the most likely path: somewhere between the conflicts for the series and the development of the players. This is the luxury that pelicans have because of the future choices of the Lakers. They can try to speed up Williamson's schedule in the short term and reorganize a large number of long-term plans.
Griffin's pelicans will be scrutinized at each stage. Williamson is a different player from the league. It's Griffin's job to build a winner around him.