The NBA season ended barely two days ago, and the offseason has already found its' crazy start.
The Anthony Davis era for the New Orleans Pelicans has officially came to an end, as the Pels shipped him off to the Los Angeles Lakers for a package that includes Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the 2019 #4 overall pick, and 2 more future first-rounders. Davis now joins LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma in Los Angeles as they plant themselves as a firm contender in the wild and wide open Western Conference. New Orleans has finally ended the AD trade drama, and has sped up their rebuild dramatically with a brand new young core.
What This Means For Los Angeles
They are here to contend. That's about it.
They stockpiled their assets over time and finally cashed them in, and there was no bigger prize on the market than Anthony Davis. Davis' accomplishments in the NBA don't really need an explanation, but here it is anyway:
- 6-time All-Star
- 3-time 1st-team All-NBA
- 3-time All-Defensive Team
- All-Star MVP
- 2 Playoff Appearances
- 2-time Leader in Blocks
- Career Averages of approx. 24 PPG, 11 RPG, 51.7 FG%, 2.4 BLK, 1.4 STL
Everyone across the NBA landscape knew that LeBron needed one more superstar to contend in the West, and now they have their guy in Davis. They were also able to keep Kyle Kuzma throughout this process, which is surprising but very positive for the Lakers, as Davis and James do have some additional help. After Kuzma, however, that help is very limited. The Lakers traded away three of their biggest contributors in Ball, Ingram, and Hart, and the only players on their current roster are James, Davis, Kuzma, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga. That's not too ideal of a supporting cast.
LA seems like they would land another big name in free agency, whether it is Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, or someone else, but they will also have to find a way to create a bench as well. As we saw with the Warriors this Finals run, if something happens to your main players, you have to have someone that can come in and fill that role well. The Lakers have the room and the faces to make it happen, and it's up to them to fill out the rest of the roster accordingly. But, the Lakers now have arguably 2 of the 5 best players in the NBA, which will be scary enough for opposing teams to face next year.
What this Trade Means for New Orleans
We knew that New Orleans was looking for a very enticing package for teams to lure Davis away from them, and that's exactly what they got from Los Angeles. I still believe that Lonzo Ball has the potential to be one of the best point guards in the league, and the backcourt of him and Jrue Holiday is going to be a menace on the defensive end. Brandon Ingram will now finally get a good chance to show what he is capable of and be a 1st or 2nd option on the Pelicans. Ingram was on a tear for a couple weeks before he suffered an injury that kept him out, and has shown potential to be a great scorer in the league. Josh Hart can step right in and be an effective contributor off the bench, likely backing up Ball and Holiday in the backcourt along with E'Twaun Moore. All three of these players aren't even close to their primes and the Pels have plenty of time to evaluate them before deciding on long-term extensions.
However, the pick situation that the Pelicans now have with the Lakers is even more interesting. Take a look at the full breakdown of the picks:
- 2019 #4 overall pick
- 2021 Top-8 protected first (converts into 2022 unprotected first)
- 2023 Unprotected swap
- 2024 Unprotected first
- 2025 Unprotected swap
There's no telling how good the Lakers are going to be 4 or 5 years from now, but if the LeBron and AD duo doesn't work out, the Pelicans have hit a gold mine for consecutive drafts to come. LeBron will probably be out of the league by 2023 or 2024, and Davis will be likely starting to decline as well, which could leave the Lakers with a bad record.
But let's focus more on the number 4 selection, as the Pelicans have a number of options they could look at. One would be to keep the pick and use it on a player like De'Andre Hunter or Cameron Reddish to add more future starpower to your young core. Another option (and what I think they should do) is to trade down to later on in the lottery and draft within a 8-12 range and select a big man like Jaxson Hayes or possibly Bol Bol. They could easily trade #4 for a later lottery selection and a future pick or immediate contributor, and that could solidify a future starting lineup of:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Jrue Holiday (barring a trade)
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Zion Williamson
C: Jaxson Hayes
That looks like an absolute defensive powerhouse, and this lineup can excel in all areas of the offensive end as well. Guys like Zion and Lonzo can be your playmakers, Holiday and Ingram (two average three-point shooters) can be your scorers along with Zion, and Zion and Hayes can be your interior presence down low. As you can see, Zion looks like he'll be good at just about everything.
Best and Worst Case Scenarios
Personally, I think it looks like a good trade for both teams. The Lakers got Davis after months of drama and waiting (and didn't have to trade Kuzma) and the Pelicans got their young core they wanted along with an assortment of future first-round picks. It's a trade that will definitely shake up the NBA landscape for years to come, and here are the best and worst case scenarios for each team.
Lakers' Best: The Lakers are able to build around the Brow, Bron and Kuzma and advance to the NBA Finals, Davis re-signs in the offseason and they firmly assert themselves as contenders for years to come.
Lakers' Worst: The Dwight Howard saga repeats itself. LeBron and AD under-perform and can't coexist, Davis leaves in the offseason, and the Lakers are left with an awkward situation with no real young talent.
Pelicans' Best: Ball and Ingram blossom in New Orleans along with Zion, the Pelicans advance to the playoffs and establish themselves as one of the best future teams in the league.
Pelicans' Worst: Ball and Ingram hit a wall and fail to progress, the Pelicans fail to make any sort of improvement and must rely on the Lakers' future to build once again through the draft.