All of a sudden, and the New Orleans Pelicans, with a lineup that now includes Jrue Holiday, look like a team that might make the postseason for the first time in three years, thanks to the trade that sent Nerlens Noel to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Pelicans didn’t need Noel, as they already had the prototype version from Kentucky, Anthony Davis, the number one pick from the 2012 draft. Davis didn’t take over the league by storm; you can’t with a shaky offensive game, and didn’t even win rookie of the year.
But he’s working on his glitches, and his defensive abilities are clearly going to make him one of the best in the NBA pretty soon. He still averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, missing 20 games due to injuries, which also limited his play to 28.8 minutes per game.
But it’s not only Davis that Holiday is joining. Eric Gordon hasn’t been the superstar he should have been due to knee injuries, keeping him on the court for only 51 games the last two seasons, but the Pelicans still think he can be a substantial part of their offensive game at shooting guard, and even if he doesn’t give them 20 points per game at better than 40.2% from the field, the Pelicans are hoping they get enough out of him to make him into a valuable trading chip (owed $14.9 million in 2014-2015, hold a player option for $15.5 million in 2015-2016).
Lets not forget Greivis Vasquez, who enjoyed an excellent third-NBA season, averaging 13.9 points and 9 assists per game, finally getting a chance to start for an NBA team. His height (6’7) makes him an option to use as small forward in a small-lineup, as the Pelicans will surely try to find a why and thin out their loaded backcourt as the season advances.
Lets not forget Pierre Jackson, the rookie point guard that also came in the Noel-Holiday trade, who might also try and find a place for himself in the rotation. The Baylor standout has a problem with his size (only 5’10) but many believe he’s one of the more NBA-ready talents among the draft class’ guards if teams are willing to overlook his height.
And then there’s Holiday himself, who was pretty much the only good thing about a bad Philadelphia 76ers team, deciding to start anew, averaging 17.7 points per game last season, making the All-Star game for the first time. It’s hard to see him not featuring in the starting lineup, which makes Eric Gordon the probable partner-in-crime he’ll have next to him during tip-off.
In the loaded West, the Pelicans are still not playoff worthy, but they’re getting their in giant strides. Austin Rivers hopefully won’t be as bad as he was last season, which potentially makes for something that’s almost like an extra signing if his sophomore NBA season looks a lot better. Playing their cards right with the next trade they make, probably during the season, and the future of success and postseason appearances could be here very soon.