Pelicans Notes: Zion, Culver, Davis

Those concerned about Zion Williamson‘s game being dependent on his athleticism are overthinking the evaluation process.

“So (Williamson) is 18 now,” a non-Pelicans executive explains to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. “He’ll play his first NBA season at 19. He’ll be 23 when his second contract starts. Even if we get him for eight seasons and that takes us all the way through his team-controlled years, that only gets us through his age-26 season. And if he ends up being good enough to be with us for eight years as a No. 1 overall pick, we probably won’t complain because he’ll have been a good player. I don’t think we should worry about his athleticism falling off by then unless he gets hurt.”

A few of the front office analytic executives who spoke with Vecenie told him that Williamson’s projection is actually more favorable than Anthony Davis‘ was coming out of college. Opinions throughout the league are split. Some executives believe Davis was the better prospect while others feel it’s extremely close.

The Pelicans are selecting Williamson after winning the draft lottery, barring an upset of massive proportions. Let’s take a look at more notes from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans met with Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech) at the draft combine in Chicago, NBA writer Jim Eichenhofer tweets. “You never know what could happen. Anything could happen. You just have to be ready,” Culver said. New Orleans could be looking at a second top-5 selection if they trade Davis to the Knicks or Lakers.
  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson called Davis’ trade request “disappointing” during a commencement speech she made for Loyola University. Benson referred to the team’s on-court performance as “frustrating” and said that the franchise has “not adapted to the reality of today’s NBA,” as Christopher Dabe of The Time-Picayune passes along.
  • The Pelicans hired David Griffin to lead a more analytical approach in the front office. It wasn’t easy for ownership to dismiss former GM Dell Demps, as Dabe relays in the same piece. “I must be honest with myself in making painful decisions because my ultimate responsibility is to the fans,” Benson said.
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31 thoughts on “Pelicans Notes: Zion, Culver, Davis

  1. Dionis

    AD should stay, him and Zion could probably get NO to the Conference Finals next season.

    • johnstodder

      Zion is 19. It seems unlikely he’s ready for such a high expectation.

      The Pels would probably be better off building around Zion with what they could get back for Davis, and aim for the WCF in 2-3 years.

    • fieldsj2

      Agreed! N.O should do everything they can to change A.D’s mind. You still have Holiday and adding a few more pieces they could definitely put a really good team on the floor.

  2. x%sure

    It’s Z-Will’s turn in NOLA now. He will have a better chance than AD, because the Pels will have the returns from the upcoming AD trade.

    • knickscavsfan

      Question, do you think Kuzma could net a top 10 draft slot(5-10), maybe even both of Atlanta’s picks (8th and 10th)?

      • Maybe a late lottery pick, but nothing as high as 5 or both of Atlanta’s picks. Kuzma doesn’t seem to have much more of a ceiling

        • kenleyfornia2

          Odds are very low that a player drafted at 10 in a draft like this ends up as good as Kuzma. Outside the top 5 is very weak

          • SuperSinker

            Isn’t the fact that Kuzma was drafted late in the 1st round kinda render this argument null and void?

            • knickscavsfan

              That’s an interesting, and wrong, rationale to use. Gobert and Jokic were each drafted 27th and 41st overall respectively. Does that mean they wouldn’t be work a top 10 pick too?

      • Z-A

        Kuzma is a guy that can get you 15 on most nights, 2o or 30 occasionally. He’s an average to above average player in the league. Josh Richardson, Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker. He’s of that ilk. Now for the money – he’s great right now, but in the same light as Gordon/Parker at 20M you’re like ehhhh.

        You could trade Kuzma for the 8th, I think that would be fair value. You get him for at least 2 years, maybe he signs the QO, or you can retain him via RFA bird rights. But if Cam Reddish is there at #8, Atlanta would be hard pressed to pass.

        Of the 3 – Kuzma, Ingram, and Ball I would rather have Kuzma and the other 2 sold off for picks.

        Ingram is more like a skinny Michael Beasley than that pre-draft Kevin Durant comp.

        • reneaguerra

          Ingram was avg 27-7-7 in his last 10 before the blood clot. He graduated a year early from high school & got to play for coach K. Michael Beasley can only dream of having that guys ceiling

          • Z-A

            I didn’t know the NBA season was only 10 games. How about you actually look at Beasley’s stats 1st. He’s had similar stretches.

        • bowserhound

          Beasley?? Get outta here with that comp. He’s got Durantula jr written all over him. I love watching them guard each other.

          • Z-A

            His 1st 3 years in the league are better than Ingram’s 1st 3 years in the league. Blinded by the pre-draft comp.

      • x%sure

        Wondering if the Pels can retrade him after an AD trade? Lakers probably won’t move him while AD is still available.

        I doubt Kuzma draws in the top ten, since he doesn’t have the stats or sizzle to overcome a GM wanting to take his turn at a choice. It is a good draft for 4s in the mid/low first round so that does not help.

        Atlanta might be a good small-lineup spot for a Philly guy like Kuzma, contending with John Collins, who might be tough on a rookie!

        • knickscavsfan

          If the Lakers offered Ball, Kuzma and the #4 I would think about flipping Kuz for a top 10 pick or a later round pick and a 2nd rnd pick. Ball I would start him as a PG along side Holiday. If he excels and is happy he might actually want to stay and be the floor leader for Zion and whomever else they draft with the #4 and whomever they pick up.

          I think there’s a ton of sleeper talents that are going to be available in the slots 15-30, especially with the number of freshman in the draft. I think you have the top 10 recruits like Zion, RJ, Reddish, Bol, etc that will be lottery picks but a lot of sophmore, junior and senior guys that simply took a while to reach their ceiling that will fall to the back half of the 1st round. I think guys like Ty Jerome, Cameron Johnson and Admiral Schofield that I think can reallly help build the backend of a team or become solid rotational players. I’m hoping the Cavs choose wisely with both picks. If Griffin can somehow flip an asset and collect some more picks (Celtics have the 14th, 20th and 22nd, 76s have 24th, 33rd, 24th, 44th and 54th and Atlanta has the 8th, 10th, 35th, 41st and 42nd. Celts and 76ers probably don’t want to add that many rookies to their lineup whereas Atlanta might want to use some of those picks to lure in some current NBA players to blend young and vets.

          • Z-A

            Sixers need to use those picks to replace their bench. Korkmaz, TJ McConnell, Amir Johnson, Monroe, J Simmons, Boban are all expected to depart. Back-up PG, SG, SF, and Center.

            Targeting SFs Matisse Thybulle, Cam/Keldon Johnson. PF/C- Rui Hachimura, Mfiondu Kabengele, Jontay Porter. Guards – Ty Jerome, Carsen Edwards, Shamorie Ponds.

            And my Dark Horse – Tacko Falls at #54.

          • x%sure

            Thybule the next Butler?– should be good competition in scrimmages, like Kuzma vs Collins. I think Butler would eat up Keldon. Hachimura should be gone by 24.

            I liked Naz Reid at 25 for the Cavs but I doubt he’s a Beilein kind of guy. Everything should be viewed through Beilein now. That puts a Jerome or a Schofield in view, or Grant Williams or Thybule. Hopefully PJ Washington or Hachimura. Beilein would likely holler at Hachimura a lot and it would work. Never saw Dort but I like the name.

  3. AD’s value now is half than in February, so the Lakers offer should reflect that. I would offer Kuzma, Hart & #4 at the very top, Pels squandered his value, so you can’t overpay for him now. Would need some other salary matching scheme but you cannot give any more than 1 of the young trio.

    • bowserhound

      Yep, Pels subtracted half a season of his services on contract. Sitting him made it look like he’s fragile. Not a good look for a chip you’re trying to get max value for.

    • tylerall5

      While I agree with you, you have to consider what other teams will be offering. Boston and the Knicks can still put together a package that’s better than anything LA can offer. Not saying that they will do it, but just saying it’s possible.

    • fieldsj2

      No way the Pelicans take that trade. Davis may have lost some value but nowhere near half.

    • Codeeg

      Nah they’re trading him to sign him to a max. Yea that lost some leverage but every nba team knows why he was sitting.

  4. reneaguerra

    Talk numbers all you want, Ingram came into the league 1 year younger & a hard working kid from Duke. Beasley a pot smoking bust who’s 3rd year was his best. The next 2 seasons will prove you absolutely wrong.

  5. Markeatonrules

    Perhaps the Pels could trade AD to the Knicks? RJ Barrett is the real deal and having both Duke super prospects (Barret and Williamson) would jumpstart their re-build big time.
    The deal would also include the Knicks 2020 1st round pick, Kevin Knox, Mitchel Robinson, and DeAndre Jordan to help offset the salary. Just a thought.

    • Z-A

      The Knicks have the best package. Mitchell, Knox, #3, and one of the Mavs picks.

      Pels dont have to go full rebuild. They can keep Jrue and use Hill/Moore expiring contracts to get a better player via salary dump.

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