Author: Bryce Duhon

Pelicans Beat Rockets Without Multiple Starters

In what was expected to be an easy win for the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Rockets 121-116, even without 4 of their 5 starters. Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, E’Twuan Moore, and Elfrid Payton were all out due to injuries. Key bench player Nikola Mirotic was also ruled out.

The Pelicans were definitely not expected to win this contest. Frank Jackson made his first career start, and the Rockets had both Chris Paul and James Harden healthy. Even without 5 of their top-7 players, the Pelicans were able to hold off the potent offensive attack of Harden and the Rockets. Although Harden scored 37 points, a lot of those points came in the fourth quarter when the Pelicans had strong control of the game.

Jrue Holiday showed why he should be an All-Star this season, as he became the first guard in the history of the NBA to record at least 17 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 blocks. Jahlil Okafor led the Pelicans in scoring with 27 points, while also recording 12 rebounds. Okafor has been fantastic the last 5 games, recording 4 double-doubles and scoring over 15 points in each of the contests. He’s also averaging 2.6 blocks per game over this 5 game span. Many other players stepped up as well, as 6 total Pelicans scored in the double-digits.

The Pelicans played some great defense against one of the better teams in the league. It was a great win tonight, mainly to prove to the league that New Orleans is more than Anthony Davis, something fans truly needed after Davis’ trade request earlier this week. While it is still unforeseen what the future holds for New Orleans, if the Pelicans play like a team and work together like they did against the Rockets, they may be better than everyone expects.

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Potential Trade Destinations for Anthony Davis

It is sad I even have to write this article. The Brow has requested a trade from the Pelicans, leaving Pelicans fans hopeless for the future. However, it’s possible to look forward. AD already stated he wants to be on a team that can offer him a chance to win a championship, meaning the Pelicans may have slim pickings if they want to please Davis. Although no team can really give a trade package that would immediately constitute Davis, some teams can offer some young players with great potential. Thanks to NBA Trade Machine, fans have a way to work out potential trades based on NBA rules and teams’ salary caps. Here are some trades that Dell Demps and the Pelicans front office could consider:

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers, thanks to LeBron James and their plentiful young talent, are the favorites to land AD. They have numerous young pieces that they could give the Pelicans and draft picks to go along with those players. The Pelicans would surely demand at least 3 out of the 5 of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Ivica Zubac. The Pelicans would also probably want some draft picks to secure some future talent. The only problem is that all these young players have small contracts, meaning the Lakers would have to trade an older player making more money. Although the Lakers would like to keep Kuzma on the roster considering his great talent, it would be hard to resist Anthony Davis if it means parting with him. Here are two trades that could give the Pelicans a nice, young core and stay within the salary restrictions.

Lakers receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive:  Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and a 1st and 2nd round pick.

OR

Lakers receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson, Ivica Zubac, and a draft pick.

Boston Celtics

The team that could arguably give the Pelicans the best return, the Boston Celtics are another favorite to land Davis. Although due to the “rose rule” restricting the Celtics from trading for Davis this season, they could wait until July 1st to get the trade done. The Celtics have great pieces in place to win a championship now, but they would have to lose some of these pieces in order to acquire AD. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are two of the best young players in the league, but Boston would have to part with one if not both of these talents to get Davis. New Orleans could land both young pieces and another solid player in Gordon Hayward in exchange for their superstar.

Celtics receive: Anthony Davis and Solomon Hill

Pelicans receive: Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and multiple draft assets.

The Longshot: Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers and their Big 3 of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler have shown they are in win-now mode. They were willing to part with Robert Covington, a longtime 76er, and Dario Saric, a young and promising big man, to acquire Butler. Philly believes they are indeed in contention for a championship, and Anthony Davis may be the missing piece. The only problem is, Philly would have to trade one of the Big 3 to get Davis. They do not have any assets besides those players, and they wouldn’t have enough cap space for all 4. Joel Embiid is untouchable, and Jimmy Butler is brand new to town. The move that would make the most sense if they genuinely want Davis would be to send Ben Simmons back to Louisiana, where he attended college. Although it is not a favorite target, if Philly truly trusts “the Process”, an Embiid-Davis pairing would be one of the best pairings ever.

76ers receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive: Ben Simmons, Wilson Chandler, Markelle Fultz, and 2021 Miami Heat 1st round pick.

The Underdogs: Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks

The Toronto Raptors have been a solid team for multiple years now. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2013. Yet somehow, they always seem to be missing something. This past offseason they traded for Kawhi Leonard, hoping he could push them over the hump. So far they have been playing fantastic, but securing Anthony Davis might make them too good to stop. While they lack big-name assets, they still have players to offer that New Orleans could consider.

Raptors receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive: Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Jonas Valanciunas

Milwaukee is the best team in the East right now in large part to their star Giannis Antetokounmpo. They are a top-2 team on both sides of the ball in the entire league. They also are great at 3-point shooting, rebounding, and are top-5 in assists. Basically, the Milwaukee Bucks are nearly unstoppable right now. Pairing Anthony Davis and Giannis, who actually have similar stats, build, and age, might put them over the top and bring a championship to Milwaukee. While they would have to trade key pieces to their offense, it would be hard to stop the slashing of Giannis along with the paint-dominance of AD.

Bucks receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Thon Maker, and a protected 1st round pick.

 

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Anthony Davis Requests Trade

The day a Pelicans fan wished would never come is here. Anthony Davis, one of the greatest players of the current generation, has requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.

In the early morning of January 28th, Twitter went nuts as Davis’ agent Rich Paul reported Davis “will not be signing a contract extension if or when presented and is requesting a trade.” Although many saw it coming, it hurts just the same. Davis is a phenomenal player, averaging 29.3 points per game, 13.3 rebounds, and a career-high 4.4 assists this season. Davis is a true all-around superstar, being a top-5 player on both sides of the ball for many years. Unfortunately for New Orleans, Davis wants to be in a position where he can win more games and compete for a championship.

Its no surprise Davis wants out. A superstar wants to show off his talent, and that’s hard for him to do when he’s always on a team with a losing record. The next step is to see when and where Anthony Davis gets traded to. Although most expect the trade to happen in the offseason, there is still over two weeks until the NBA Trade Deadline. A trade could happen this season, leaving fans wondering who the Pels might get in return.

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Pelicans Defeat Division Rival Without Anthony Davis

Even though Anthony Davis was not able to play due to a sprained finger, the Pelicans defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on January 21st. With a starting lineup of Elfrid Payton, Jrue Holiday, E’twaun Moore, Julius Randle, and Jahlil Okafor, the Pels were able to hand the Grizzlies a loss by a score of 105-85.

The lack of star-power did not bother the Pelicans, as 3 of their starters were able to produce a double-double. Holiday scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while also dishing out 6 assists. Both Randle and Okafor had 20 points and double-digit rebounds, with 12 and 10, respectively. 6th man Nikola Mirotic also had a solid game, scoring 21 points and bringing in 6 rebounds.

Their defense was surprisingly solid without their star center, holding the Grizzlies to the second-lowest score of their season.

The biggest weakness from the Pels was their bench scoring. Without including Mirotic, the Pelicans bench only contributed 8 points. Fortunately, it did not matter, as the Pelicans still came away with a convincing win.

Hopefully, the Pelicans can keep up these efforts, as they will be without Davis for at least 4 more games, and have some tough competition ahead.

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Saints Fans, Here’s What We Can Look Forward To Next Season

For Saints fans, January 20th will never be forgotten. The New Orleans Saints were one game away from punching their ticket into Super Bowl 53. Instead, they will be watching the big game from the comfort of their homes, as they were defeated by the Los Angeles Rams 26-23 in overtime. Whether it was because of god-awful officiating or god-awful officiating, the Saints lost. Yes, I put god-awful officiating twice. Yes, that is the reason the Saints lost. Moving on, the Saints are now left with one question: “What’s gonna happen next year?” Well, there sure is plenty to look forward to. Here are the three main things that Saints fans can expect next year.

1- A SIMILAR ROSTER

The Saints built plenty of their current starters from draft picks. In 2017, the Saints nailed the draft, drafting All-Pro tackle Ryan Ramzyck, and both the Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara and Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore. The year prior, they drafted 2x Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas. Due to these stars being so young, they are still on their rookie contracts, meaning they will be here for at least another year. The Saints also have one of, if not the greatest quarterback of all time in Drew Brees, who had a multi record-breaking year in 2018. Their defense is also stout, with stars like Sheldon Rankins, Cameron Jordan, and Demario Davis. The Saints have most of their roster locked up on multi-year contracts, meaning these same players will come back next season ready to prove themselves.

2- A WEAK NFC SOUTH

As if the fact that the Saints finished as the 1st seed wasn’t enough, the rest of the NFC South looked sub-par at best. The Carolina Panthers lost 7 of their last 8 after starting 6-2 on the year. Cam Newton, the Panthers star QB, may not even play next year, as the Panthers are considering sitting him the whole 2019 season. Although the Falcons were riddled with injuries, their play was still not to a usual Atlanta standard. Matt Ryan had a great year, but that could not make up for the below average play from most of the team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can be described in 1 word: dysfunctional. After beating the Saints 48-40 in the first game of the season, Ryan “Fitzmagic” couldn’t pull the rabbit out of the hat and lead the Bucs. They went 5-11 and just fired their head coach. If the Saints even half as good next season as they did this year, they will still dominate the South.

3- AN AGGRESSIVE AND MOTIVATED DEFENSE

When Rob Ryan took over the Saints defense a few years ago, everyone expected the Saints defense to be spectacular. Well, the Saints became the worst defense not only in the league but in league history. They still secured a 7-9 record, but their defense looked like middle schoolers trying to play with professionals. Then, in came Dennis Allen. Ever since Allen has taken over, the defense has become a unit to strike fear into opponents. The Saints had the second-rated run defense this season, allowing only 80.2 rushing yards per game. They also had 12 interceptions on the year. This means they can stop offenses on the ground and through the air. When the Saints usual explosive offense wouldn’t show up, the defense would not allow the other team to capitalize. With great physical and emotional leaders like Cam Jordan and Demario Davis, you can expect this Saints D to come out next year ready to feed on their opposition.

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