NBA Lottery looms large for Pelicans, plans to shape their future
It is a night that could shape the future of the New Orleans Pelicans for years.
The Pelicans have a 6 percent chance of ending up with the first overall pick and about a one-in-four chance of getting into the top four in Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery.
An ideal scenario for New Orleans would if the New York Knicks, one of three teams with a 14 percent chance of winning the first pick, do so. Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin would then have an ideal scenario. He could send Anthony Davis to New York for the first pick, expected to be Duke’s Zion Williamson, and forward Kevin Knox, who turns 20 in August.
The Pelicans could add a potential superstar, Williamson, and another potential star in Knox.
Two other clubs, Cleveland and Phoenix, have a 14 percent chance of getting the first pick, but it is unlikely that Davis, in the final year of his contract, would agree to a long term deal with either so those two franchises are not likely to risk trying to deal for him.
If the Knicks landed the first pick in the draft, it could also set off a bidding war for Davis with the Boston Celtics, who have a wealth of young talent and potentially four first round picks this year.
Boston has its own pick, and first round picks from the Kings and Clippers. The Celtics could also get the Grizzlies first round pick, although it is top eight protected.
If the Pelicans climbed up to the second pick, they could land Murray State guard Ja Morant and still trade Davis to the Boston Celtics. Morant is the clear-cut second rated player in the draft as an impact lead guard,
Griffin has left the door open for a Davis return to the Pelicans, but that appears to be a subliminal message to the interested clubs that New Orleans doesn’t have to make a deal.
The reality is, the odds of a trade are overwhelming. When it is made, what the Pelicans need to do is acquire an alpha dog.
It was a little bit puzzling when Davis, who was the face of the franchise, wanted to be traded to the Lakers and play second fiddle to LeBron James.
In Boston this winter, reports had Celtics forward Jayson Tatum hinting that he wouldn’t mind a trade to New Orleans to be the face of the franchise.
If the Pelicans land the first pick, either in the lottery or by trade, Duke’s Zion Williamson appears to be that type A personality to lead a franchise.
Alpha dogs are hard to find, but their importance cannot be understated.
In Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, Stephen Curry was scoreless in the first half but scored a career-best for fourth-quarter points, 23, in eliminating the Rockets.
The Warriors were seven-point underdogs in the game, a betting line influenced by the fact that Golden State’s Kevin Durant missed the game with a leg injury. Multiple alphas have helped the Warriors maintain a dynasty.
Two alpha dogs have led Portland to the Western Conference finals. The backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have elevated their games.
Last year in the first round, the Blazers were swept by the Pelicans in the first round. Yet, with essentially the same roster, Portland won a seventh game at Denver to cap a pair of impressive series wins in reaching the NBA’s final four.
Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has spoken recently about winning “championships,” plural not singular. That happens with an outstanding basketball front office executive secures an alpha dog or two for a talented roster.
Jrue Holiday has become one of the best players at his position in the NBA, but an effervescent personality the talented two-way guard is not. The Pelicans need a great talent whose personality matches his hoops prowess.
Tuesday night’s lottery, if it breaks right for New Orleans, could be a huge step in making just that happen.
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WGNO Sports Director/WGSO 990am
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…