NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -
The Pelicans have accomplished more in the last two months with their assets than some teams do in years. All in all, I think Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin has pressed all of the right buttons so far to put this franchise back on very solid ground. Here’s what I took away from the last week.
1. The return for Anthony Davis makes the headache worth it, for now
You hate to see a superstar force his way out, especially to join the “villains” of the NBA in Los Angeles. But the way Griffin orchestrated everything, the Pelicans are better for it. We’ve seen what the Anthony Davis era looked like. Granted, they dealt with way too many injuries, which is mostly out of the team’s control, I can’t confidently say this team would be better off had AD not requested a trade back in January. The process was painful, but turning AD into two additional first round picks and future picks was masterful.
That said, the task going forward is to win games, and that’s easier said than done, as we’ve seen over the seven years of Anthony Davis.
2. Griffin is very aware of the big picture
Since day one, Griffin’s emphasized his goal of building a team that can have success for years to come. That means the process may require patience, especially given their youth. But the ultimate goal, as Griffin said after the draft, is to win. He’s not content with just a good draft or acquiring cap space. Yes, there’s a little time for celebration right now, but there’s A LOT of work to come with such a young team.
3. Zion Williamson gets it
Reports of Zion’s disappointment in not being a New York Knick can officially be thrown in the garbage. The kid truly doesn’t care. He’s referred to himself as “a simple guy” so many times, and I believe him. From everything we heard from Williamson, he just wants to play basketball, and he’s come to the right team for it. Alongside Jrue Holiday, who maintains that same “basketball first” attitude, Zion should fit right in. His humility is as impressive as his skill on the court, and it sounds like David Griffin, Alvin Gentry and the Pelicans have sold him on New Orleans being the perfect home.
4. It’s still Jrue’s team...
For the sake of not putting the weight of the franchise on Zion’s shoulders, Griffin quickly made it known that upon trading Davis, they knew the Pelicans would become “Jrue Holiday’s team.” I agree. Holiday’s play on the court and his first class responses in the midst of turmoil during the second half of last season are everything you’d want to see from the face of the franchise.
That said, Zion seems to be a leader by nature. He went to Duke with two other top 10 picks and made them “other top 10 picks" because he was that good and that charismatic. There could, and probably should, be joint leadership down the road for the Pelicans.
5. This is a roster built for Alvin Gentry
The Pelicans made it very clear, with Gentry’s extension and the way that they’ve drafted, that this team is built to play an uptempo style. Health will be key, but from Lonzo Ball to Jrue Holiday to Zion Williamson and even fellow rookie Jaxson Hayes, it’s a very athletic squad that should get up and down the floor and play an exciting brand of basketball. I still think Alvin Gentry has the most to prove of everyone in the building, but he has as many tools as he can ask for to build a better future for the Pelicans.