The New Orleans Pelicans just became must-watch television. They are early contenders for League Pass favorites next season.
Teams never get equal value back when trading a superstar, but the Pelicans did as well as could be hoped in the Anthony Davis trade agreed to on Saturday (it can’t be executed until July for salary cap reasons). You can make an argument the Pelicans won that trade in the long term. New Orleans landed Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, three first round picks (including this year’s No. 4) and a series of pick swaps. The Pelicans are not committed to that group, they could flip those players and the picks for something they want more, but one thing remains clear:
The Pelicans are going to be fun to watch.
Zion Williamson was already the kind of player that makes you stop and watch, the kind of player you can’t take your eyes off of. Thunderous dunks in transition are coming.
Coach Alvin Gentry likes to play fast — New Orleans played at the second-fastest pace in the NBA last season. That is the style where Lonzo Ball thrives. Ball plays an instinctual style of game suited to the open court, where his court vision and passing can take advantage of a scrambling defense. It’s kind of a playground style. It worked well with the Lakers when they ran two seasons ago (they played fast this season, but when LeBron was on the court it was different). Brandon Ingram can finish in transition, plus he will become a go-to shot creator in the half court for New Orleans. He’s going to get the kind of touches he wants.
Jrue Holiday with Ball will form an outstanding defensive backcourt.
And the Pelicans have the No. 4 pick in this draft, which means Jarrett Culver could join them on the wing, a shooter and finisher with a great feel for the game.
Make no mistake, Pelicans president David Griffin rolled the dice here, he chose to go young rather than get an established All-Star back. Ball has an injury history already and Ingram has not lived up to the hype. The picks (including Williamson) may not pan out as hoped, and if the Lakers are as good as they think they will be those could be some late round picks.
Still, the haul from this trade is the kind that transforms franchises. New Orleans has a real chance to be good fast.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be must-watch television.
These Pelicans are going to be entertaining.