On the Eve of the NBA Draft, Pelicans Find Themselves at The Crossroads Once Again

NEW ORLEANS – I wouldn’t be surprised if Uncle Charles walked to the podium to announce the New Orleans Pelicans’ pick in the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

The Pelicans are at the crossroads, again.

It seems as if every five years the franchise is faced with a decision that will dramatically reshape it for years to come.

The 2019 Draft brought in Zion Williamson, and saw the end of the Anthony Davis era; one that began with tremendous promise but failed to produce any real winning in New Orleans.

The 2015 Draft followed an unlikely playoff appearance and the even more surprising firing of Monty Williams as head coach and the hiring of Alvin Gentry. As the Pelicans often did during the tenure of Dell Demps, New Orleans had traded its first round pick.

The 2011 Draft also followed a run to the postseason. It would be the last for Chris Paul in New Orleans, as he led the Hornets to a 46-36 record. Paul would be traded to the Clippers and the Hornets would have no draft pick to speak of.

So, here we are on the cusp of another monumental moment for New Orleans’ basketball franchise.

The cavalcade of rumors surrounding Williamson’s future with the Pelicans, as well as that of fellow All-Star Brandon Ingram, have divided the fan base.

Typically, fans should be looking forward to the draft. It’s a hopeful moment for them, that the next player or players that they add will be the one’s that help get over that proverbial hump on the path to a championship.

Remember this?

Now, it’s come to this.

No one cares about the heartwarming stories, or extra heaping servings of the American dream that will be featured. No one wants to hear about the obstacles overcome to reach this moment.

They want to know if David Griffin is about to trade the most talented player in franchise history; if he’s about to break up a tandem that has been on the court together a grand total of 93 games over four seasons.

SeasonGPW/LWin % w/ Zion/IngramOverall Win %Difference

There’s no question that the Pelicans are a better basketball team with both Williamson and Ingram playing together.

With Zion on the floor, with or without Ingram, the Pelicans are a .500 team (57-57). While that isn’t an earth-shattering mark, it’s still a significant step up from the team’s overall winning percentage over the past four seasons.

By all accounts Scoot Henderson is a great basketball player. In any other draft within the last 5-10 years, depending on who you ask, he would be the number one pick.

Should the Pelicans trade Zion and get Henderson in return, they could be a really good basketball team. Henderson could be the point guard that the franchise has been looking for since Paul left.

He, along with Ingram and Trey Murphy III could become a devastating offensive trio.

But would the Pelicans be any closer to a championship?

That’s a question that could only be answered in time.

I don’t envy David Griffin, nor do I pity him.

While every misstep has not been by his doing, he understands the responsibility that he assumed when accepted the job. He knows that never finishing better than ninth in the Western Conference in four seasons, with a single playoff appearance, isn’t what he was asked to deliver to people of New Orleans.

Now he is faced with this incredible decision. And the consequences of that decision will reverberate throughout the NBA for years to come.

He can hold on to Williamson and hope that he both matures and reaches his immense potential. If that choice bears fruit, then Grifin would be proven right all along. Even if it fails, no one could blame him for taking a risk on someone with Zion’s talent.

If Griffin trades Zion and he goes on to realize his potential in Portland or wherever else he might go, then he won’t be in New Orleans long enough to see how much he’ll be vilified.

Meanwhile, Pelicans fans are not the masters of their fate. They cannot be the captains of their basketball souls. They are captives, held in bondage in their belief that someday, someway, the New Orleans Pelicans will get it right.

Because, dammit, if the New Orleans Saints could climb from the abyss of not posting a winning season for its first two decades to become one of the most consistent franchises in the NFL over the last two decades, then anything is possible.

Isn’t it?


16 thoughts on “On the Eve of the NBA Draft, Pelicans Find Themselves at The Crossroads Once Again

  1. OK, now that bigdeac (formerly whatwasthat) is back on line, I do not relish the decision the team has to make. Personally, I have always been happy the Pels avoided the melodrama of teams like the Nets or the Lakers. Now we have to deal with a manchild who is quickly p*ssing away goodwill for himself and the team. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you are constantly dealing with distractions. And The Real Housewives of Zion act is wearing very, very thin.

    I am such a pessimist, that I can pretty much bet the farm that whatever decision is made will turn out poorly for the Pels. I call it the Curse of Shinn.

  2. Count me in on team Scoot, I simply cannot see this team being able to build around Zion after all that we’ve heard. Perhaps a team like the Blazers, with an established star in Lillard who is known to be a great leader, is a better setting for him. Plus it would be amazing to see Scoot on the Pels.

  3. I’ll just wait. I’ve already bought tickets for 2023-2024; I’ll ride or die with my PeliCANs. I sent up many prayers for the right choice, whatever it may be. Just want it to be right for the team. GEAUX PELS!!!

  4. I’d like to actually see what our Big 3 can do together, I’m not ready to give up on them yet. I wouldn’t give up on my children; this PeliCANs team has grown on me like they’re family so I’m sticking with them. I hope Griff does, too. After all, look how long it took Utah … 11 years? I’ll wait.
    Side note: NBA talking heads are excited about Wemby, but his team got swept in its championship series. I’d much rather have Hawkins from UConn, which is a national championship team. That pedigree means something. He’s not a finished product but he knows what winning looks like, even when you’re not projected to be the winner. That REALLY could mean something to this team.

  5. From the article: “But would the Pelicans be any closer to a championship?”

    As a multi-year partial-season ticket holder going back to the AD era, let me scream this from the top of my lungs:

    I want a consistently competitive team. I want to watch players who are on the court and want to play. If the offer is there, trade Zion, stick with BI, and go with Scoot, Trey, and Herb as our version of Steph, Klay, and Dray. Even if they never come close to those heights, it would be an incredibly fun team to root for.

  6. The Pels got their shooter in the draft now I suspect they will add at least 4 more FA soon. Wonder if Seabron is able to carve out a spot at pg. Athletic young 5 is next I suppose. EJ acts as another draft pick at the backup 4 most likely.

  7. Interesting how the “instant grades” vary, some making him sound like a taller, skinny OTP, while others give him much better marks. I think he was an obvious choice and a solid choice. We definitely were hurting for shooting by the end of last year.

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