NEW ORLEANS — The Pelicans hit on a longshot in the NBA Draft Lottery as a 1 in 17 chance came through and now they have an opportunity to re-boot the organization with Zion Williamson.
In 2012, they had the same chance when they also won the draft lottery and took Anthony Davis, who sent this past season into a tailspin with his mid-season demand for a trade.
The Pelicans never made it to the NBA’s version of the final four with Anthony Davis, I believe, for one primary reason: They lacked patience, and they must not repeat that mistake.
Patience means that no matter what Anthony Davis wants – and multiple reports do say he still wants to be traded, and it doesn’t matter. Trading Davis is the best move for the Pelicans. Here’s why.
The NBA’s Final Four this year includes the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors and Portland Blazers.
Toronto is the anomaly of the group and if Kawhi Leonard leaves in free agency, the are not built for the long haul.
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The other 3 teams are. Why? Because they all built through the draft. They all got young talent, multiple pieces and let them grow up in an NBA sense together.
Starting with Portland, the Blazers drafted Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. They drafted Lillard in 2012 and McCollum in 2013 and put pieces around them later and – here they are.
Milwaukee drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013, a year after they hit on Khris Middleton. They’re the Bucks leading scorers this year. They added pieces around them and now they’re in their first final four.
And remember, the superteam in California started with the drafting of Steph Curry in 2009. They added Klay Thompson in 2011 and Draymond Green a year later.
For all three of these teams – each fronted by a superstar – young players were allowed to grow up together.
The first time Golden State made it to the Conference Finals with Steph Curry was his sixth NBA season. The Bucks and Blazers are here for the first time. It is Giannis’ sixth NBA season. It is Lillard’s seventh season.
The three teams are in it for the long haul, but it took patience. In Portland, their top two guys – Lillard and McCollum are one year apart in age. In Golden State, the big 3 – Thompson, Curry and Green – are all within two years of age of each other.
Anthony Davis is 26 years old. Zion Williamson is 18. It took Curry, Lillard and Giannis at least six years each to reach the Conference Finals. By the time Zion Williamson is ready to get there, Anthony Davis will be long past his prime.
Trade him now, while his value is greatest. Get another young piece or two to grow up with Zion and you can be a long-term contender – if you are patient.