Projecting the Pelicans Lineup After the Anthony Davis Trade
So Anthony Davis is no longer a New Orleans Pelican. We kind of knew it was coming, but the day is here. AD was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for a massive package that includes multiple starters and draft picks.
Now, the trade cannot officially happen until July 6th, but all of the paperwork is into the NBA, and the Pelicans may actually be able to make the #4 overall pick themselves this week.
Looking at the total haul the Pelicans brought in from the trade, they get point guard Lonzo Ball, shooting guard Brandon Ingram, and forward Josh Hart. Additionally they got three First Round Draft Picks, including this year's #4 overall.
These players join a roster that already includes point guard Elfrid Payton, shooting guard Jrue Holiday, forwards E'Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, and center Jahlil Okafor. There are other players under contract, but that's the bulk of the talent.
One of last year's Pelicans stars, Julius Randle has opted out of his contract, and has become a free agent.
You could build a solid starting lineup out of all of the names listed above, but there's even more talent that will be infused with this roster. The Pelicans hold the #1 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, in addition to the #4 overall pick they got from the Lakers. So they will likely be bringing in 2 of the top 4 players in this year's draft.
That #1 overall pick will be Duke superstar Zion Williamson, who will probably enter the starting lineup right away. But the #4 overall pick becomes interesting. There are a lot of sources calling for the Pelicans to trade the pick for an established starter from another team in the league. But honestly a trade would involving bringing a veteran contract into the salary cap fold. If the team uses the pick on a player, they'll be on a rookie contract, which helps the numbers.
If the team keeps and uses the #4 pick, they will more than likely use it on Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland. There are some who think they could also attempt to package the pick to move up to the #2 or #3 pick to select one of the other blue chip prospects Ja Morant from Murray State or RJ Barrett from Duke.
The best odds are on them selecting Garland, so lets build a depth chart using that:
PG - Lonzo Ball
SG - Jrue Holliday
PF - Zion Williamson
SF - Josh Hart
C - Jahlil Okafor
PG - Elfrid Payton
PG - Darius Garland
SG - Brandon Ingram
SF - Solomon Hill
PF - E'Twaun Moore
A lot of the guards can be interchangeable on a game-to-game basis. But if you look at all of the top-of-the-first-round talent on this roster, and the players who've proven they can play at the NBA level.
In all honesty, this trade has positioned the Pelicans to be a playoff team for the next 5 years. As long as Zion is as good as advertised, this team could be getting ready to hit it's golden era.