He new orleans pelicans they were a franchise that had raised expectations going into last season. There was even a juncture when they were first in the Western Conference. Injuries to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram forced them to slide down and finish ninth in the West. New Orleans has had a relatively quiet offseason as they signed Herb Jones to a contract extension and added Cody Zeller to bolster their front line.
His front office and coaching staff are heavily dependent on the continuity of his team and Williamson’s full recovery. Western powerhouses have bolstered their lineup like the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and Memphis Grizzlies, so it will be difficult for the Pelicans to compete with these organizations. Trey Murphy III’s jump last year was fantastic, but they’ll need a couple more top-level players to boost their numbers if they want to finish in the top six.
Jones and Larry Nance Jr. were two forwards who took a step back last year, but they will need to revive their form this season. Talking about rekindling his form, adding the Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby through the trade he can propel the Pelicans into a serious dispute.
There was murmurs around the league that Anunoby was a key product that almost every franchise was interested in before last season’s trade deadline. The expectation was that he would be moved, but Toronto was adamant and unwilling to move him on any deal. Reports indicated that the asking price was too high, so teams like the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies were unwilling to go all out for a forward who has yet to make an All-Star team.
Anunoby is the perfect starting 3 for a championship-chasing team, but overpaying for him is another thing to be considered immensely. Michael Porter Jr. and Andrew Wiggins are the epitome of guys who aren’t the mainstays of the franchise, but play a vital role in a team’s success. Anunoby fits that billing, bringing his value up a notch higher than others.
The Pelicans’ Big 3, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, are all pure shooters who can get 30 every night, so whatever piece they add to the puzzle doesn’t need to be a pure shooter. It needs to be someone who can do everything else and thrive as a supplementary piece, like defending the opposing team’s best player and moving consistently off the ball.
From the sounds of it, Anunoby is the connector and Swiss Army knife New Orleans needs to compete with the aforementioned teams like the Lakers and Warriors. The Pelicans have Murphy III or Jones to play 30-plus minutes at wing, but they don’t yet have experience hitting bodies with veterans like LeBron James or Kevin Durant in a seven-game playoff series.
Anunoby won’t back down on those guys, and he has the playoff experience to back him up. Plus, he can be the secondary scorer when defenses focus on their stars and the Pelicans need other guys to rack up points. He will average close to 15 points per game with the Pelicans, but he can still get 20-25 a night. Attacking fasteners and nailing corner 3s will be the constant ways Anunoby can rack up points.
The Pelicans have young assets and draft capital to make the trade a reality, so they should go after it, especially if the Raptors end up moving Pascal Siakam as well.