David Griffin has been criticized nonstop for his moves in the New Orleans Pelicans front office, since coming over from the Cavaliers in 2019. He traded away their best player in the last decade, Anthony Davis, even though Davis was never going to play for them, and was completely disgruntled. This move doesn’t look so bad in hindsight due to Davis’ inability to stay on the court. Griffin didn’t resign Lonzo Ball or even match the contract he was given with the Chicago Bulls. He built a team around a superstar that has missed more games than he has played. One can argue this position has been one of the toughest in the NBA. Despite all of this, the Pelicans showed up in the playoffs this year. They took two games off the Suns! Everyone thought it was going to be a sweep! Give Griffin some credit!
The Suns won 64 games this year and probably should’ve won more. In recent memory, the Suns were one of the best regular-season teams, manhandling teams night in and night out. Despite losing a fringe MVP candidate, and an All-NBA teamer in Devin Booker, the Suns were still much better from a roster perspective than the Pelicans were. They have only improved since the finals last year, and we’re essentially a shoo-in to win the west this year. However, The Suns looked lost without Booker, as it seems like none of these high-value role players can create their shot.
New Orleans Pelicans and David Griffin Earned Respect
Everything Changed at the Trade Deadline
The Pelicans deserved more credit though, this was not just the Suns playing badly. This newfound charisma is all attributed to David Griffin. This motley crew of Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado, and Jonas Valanciunas, propelled this team to playoff wins over a juggernaut. They threw different defenders at Chris Paul and disrupt the floor general’s flow. The CJ McCollum trade paid extremely high dividends, as he seemed to thrive in New Orleans. Brandon Ingram played well-rounded and incorporated others, despite me still not knowing if he’s a star or not. The Pelicans seemed to be gelling at the perfect time. They came up short, but the ceiling is the roof for next year.
Zion Williamson has unfortunately overshadowed the whole season with the Pelicans, literally and figuratively. His impact on the court and his massive weight gain. No one knows what’s going to happen with him, being one of the only athletes ever to tease out not taking the super-max from the team that drafted him. He’s injured enough to not play, but reports come out of him playing 5 on 5 but not with the team. Then he Instagrams a picture of him doing insane dunks. It’s all very chaotic and confusing. It seems as though this doesn’t even matter in New Orleans, as the Pelicans are malleable and deep enough to contend with the best of the best. Do I think they win the championship next year? No. But, they’re a very fun team to watch and should vastly improve next year.
Where Do the New Orleans Pelicans Go From Here?
Next year is going to be a very interesting campaign for the team. They have a wonderful nucleus of players, who all work well together. There is an issue with Williamson being dropped back into the lineup. He is such a ball-dominant player, that his usage can throw a wrench in this offense that was amazing to watch the past three weeks. He also struggles on the defensive side of the ball, never finishing with a positive DBPM. His impact as a solo player has no ceiling, we legitimately have never seen a player like him before. He is a fringe top 10 player when he is healthy.
Now, to throw in more confusion, the Pelicans have one, 1st round pick this year, and three, 2nd round picks. In 2023, they have two 1sts. This is a lot of draft capital to work with. This is also just the start, as they have excess draft picks for the next few seasons after. I would love to see the Pelicans package some draft picks, and some expiring contracts for some more guard depth. If they are worried about Williamson leaving, which he is not, the right move is to win now. Lift some of this draft capital to fortify the backcourt and go from a play-in team to hosting a playoff series.
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