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Far Fetched Friday: The New Orleans Pelicans Will be Better Without Anthony Davis
By: Ryan Stein
Welcome to Far Fetched Friday where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we think will come to fruition. With this edition, we predict that the New Orleans Pelicans will be better without Anthony Davis.
The New Orleans Pelicans are the next unfortunate NBA franchise to have their star player push their way out of town, with superstar Anthony Davis requesting a trade last month. They join small market teams in this epidemic, like the San Antonio Spurs (with Kawhi Leonard), Minnesota Timberwolves (Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love), Cleveland Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving), Indiana Pacers (Paul George) and Orlando Magic (Dwight Howard) among others. Each team's situation has been different, but most teams saw their performance take a big hit after their star player left (with the notable exclusion of the Indiana Pacers.) When the Pelicans eventually trade Davis (likely this summer), many NBA fans will believe the Pelicans to be no longer relevant. However, the Pelicans will actually prove to be better next season without Anthony Davis on the roster than they are now with Davis currently playing.
Occupying the 13th spot in the Western Conference with a record of 27-36 as of this writing, it's fair to say the Pelicans have fallen well short of expectations after reaching the second round of last year's playoffs. The Pelicans lost some key players over the offseason, most notably Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins, but that's not enough reason for the team to be in the league's basement. The speculation surrounding Davis' inevitable departure from the team has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the rest of the roster. It is likely the team's chemistry and morale will improve after he leaves, as it's difficult to play with a player that has no interest in being a part of your team. The package that the Pelicans will receive in return for Davis will feature plenty of young talent, whether that's from the Los Angeles Lakers (or Clippers), Boston Celtics, or even a team like the Denver Nuggets. With another star already in place (Jrue Holiday), the Pelicans will be in an excellent position to pair Holiday with another future star like Jayson Tatum.
Tatum's future is unknown at this point, but many people that follow the NBA would agree he is already close to stardom, with the potential to become a superstar when he reaches his prime. A core of Holiday, Tatum, Julius Randle, and Marcus Smart has the makings of a team that will be tough to beat on any given night, thanks to some hard-nosed basketball. Is that group of players enough to make the playoffs? Well, let's take a look at this year's Western Conference playoff picture. As of now, the 8th seed in the West is on-pace to win 44 games. With the wealth of talent featured throughout the West, it is unlikely that entrance into the playoffs will require 50 wins. A team predicated on tough defense and hustle is always a contender to outperform regular season expectations (see: Grit n Grind Memphis Grizzlies.) It is not unreasonable to suggest a team with arguably the best defensive backcourt in the league in Holiday and Smart, as well as plenty of offensive firepower with Holiday, Tatum, and Randle, could sneak into the 2020 NBA playoffs.
So don't fret Pelicans fans. You may be losing your current star, but your team will be a lot more competitive than people will think.
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