The Pelcians Have No One to Blame but Themselves
The stat lines and performance of Anthony Davis so far this season have been utterly ridiculous. He even entered conversation with Michael Jordan, starting the season scoring 95 points in the first two games. Through two weeks this season, Davis is averaging an MVP type line of 31.3 points, 10.8 boards, and 3.1 blocks a game. The early season efforts of Davis are truly elite production and MVP type numbers. Despite the fantastic play of Davis, the same cannot be said of the Pelicans roster. The team is 1-8 and seemed destined for another lottery bound season. Many in the media have decried the Pelicans bad luck with injuries for the lack of help around Davis. While injuries have certainly played a role in the dismal outlook of the squad, they cannot be solely to blame.
Ultimately, the Pelicans front office (General Manager Dell Demps) have themselves to blame for failing to build a capable team around Davis. The strategy they have taken since landing a franchise player has been disastrous. The best way to build around a franchise player like Davis should be rooted in the OKC model. Build through the draft with smart picks and be patient. Dell Demps did the exact opposite. Let's start with their moves since they were handed the cornerstone talent with Davis in the 2012 draft. The front office whiffed with the 10th pick in the same draft in Austin Rivers. Rivers was dealt off the team after 3 seasons and was a bust in New Orleans before finding solid footing with the Clippers. Passing up players such as Khris Middleton, John Henson, and Maurice Harkless, who would have been a much better fit next to Davis in the frontcourt.
Next, Demps traded their 2013 sixth overall pick (Nerlens Noel) and 2014 first round pick for Jrue Holiday. This pick cannot be overly panned because Holiday was a young All-Star who seemed like a stud point guard to pair with Davis. Yet, the Pelicans mortgaged their assets and future trying to swing for the fences. The franchise paid the price for this trade.This traded pick was #6 in the draft and could have been used to select Nerlens Noel, CJ Mccollum, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, the Greek Freak, or Dennis Schroder. This trade also cost the Pelicans the #10 pick in following draft. This pick in the 2014 draft could have yielded the likes of TJ Warren, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, or Zach LaVine. The next blunder from the Pelicans front office was trading another first round pick for the stiff and immobile Omir Asik. The pick was not in the lottery and could not have produced any notable talent, but forced New Orleans to overpay for Asik with a 55 million dollar deal. Now, Asik is a untradeable contract and has not come close to matching his production with the Chicago Bulls.
All in all, the Pelicans have been hurt by injuries and departures from the likes of Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and even The Brow himself. But their approach to building around their superstar has been flawed and avoidable. Adding young, cheap, and healthy talent through excellent drafting has been proven to be more reliable than chasing quick fix veterans. OKC and Portland are prime examples of this with nailing picks like CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard, Harden, Westbrook, Durant, and Steven Adams. New Orleans chose to go in a different route but failed with their personnel moves. As a result, the franchise has no one to blame but themselves for this lottery bound season and Anthony Davis’ eventual departure.