God’s Favorite Team
With a little help from above, Pelicans win draft lottery
If one were to guess if God has a favorite team, they might select the New Orleans Saints or the Los Angeles Angels. While good guesses, this year’s NFC Championship and a lack of World Series appearances from Anaheim’s team suggest those teams don’t necessarily carry the Lord’s favor. Instead, the right answer may well be the New Orleans Pelicans.
It may be tough to understand how a team that has won just one playoff series in the last decade might be the Almighty’s team, until you look at the breaks the team has received from above.
With just a 6 percent chance of success, the Pels won the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, meaning they hold the right to the No. 1 overall pick. With that pick, they’ll likely take Zion Williamson, the Duke University sensation who has been called the best prospect since LeBron James.
The win comes after a tumultuous year for the Pelicans. DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s second-leading scorer ruptured his Achilles tendon in late January, and missed the remainder of the season. Still, the team won its first playoff series since 2008, before being bounced from the postseason by the eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors. Things were looking up for the team until Cousins decided to leave New Orleans to join the Warrrior and Rajon Rondo left for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The team wasn’t the same in the 2018-19 season, and in January, Anthony Davis, the team’s superstar said he wouldn’t re-sign with the Pelicans when his current contract is up and wanted to be traded to the Lakers to play beside James. The announcement blew up the Pelicans and the Lakers; seasons, as both teams missed the playoffs. The Pelicans let GM Dell Demps go, while the Lakers cut ties with their basketball operations leader and team and league legend Magic Johnson.
Basketball fans remember the Pelicans won the Draft Lottery in 2012, some say with Divine intervention, just after all-everything guard Chris Paul announced he wanted out of New Orleans. The Hornets drafted Davis who has been a star in the NBA. However, his skill hasn’t translated into the Pelicans being a contender.
This offseason, Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson hired David Griffin as the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations. While he’s said publicly that his goal is to convince Davis to stay in the navy, red, and gold, AD seems to remain steadfast in his decision to join another team.
It’s presented an interesting situation in which the Pelicans have a lot of options to rebuild and improve their team.
Fox Sports talk show host Colin Cowherd argued on his show this week that Williamson should not go to the Pelicans, who he called a badly run franchise. He argued the player should return to Duke and play another season of college ball (which he can do according to NCAA rules since he hasn’t yet hired an agent) or play for the U.S. National Team. In return, he argues the Pelicans should trade both the No. 1 pick and Davis to maximize the number of draft picks and younger professional talent they can get.
That’s an interesting prospect, but it’s not going to make Pelicans’ fans happy, as it would leave the team with minimum star power and top-level talent That’s something this team has had too much of, frankly, since the Hornets had Paul, Davis West, and Tyson Chandler. Plus there’s no guarantee that the lack of talent in the short run might possibly turn into a dearth for the long run, too. Cowherd says he doesn’t dislike New Orleans, but, man, that’s a bad idea. Plus, the team’s management is essentially new with Gayle Benson and Griffin leading the team now.
Another option would be to grant Davis a trade, and try to pick up a at least Top 5 pick in this year’s draft plus additional players or picks. That would allow the Pelicans to draft Williamson and build a team around him. I saw an ESPN talking head saying the Pelicans should try to get James from the Lakers in exchange for Davis. Wouldn’t that be something?
If God did want to prove that the Pelicans are, indeed, his team, we would soon see Davis, much like the prodigal son, return to New Orleans to match up with Williamson and current guard Drue Holliday, take on more of a leadership role and push this team to be a winner. That parable ended in a feast, an NBA Championship would suffice in the case of the Pelicans.