Many, including me, thought that the Pelicans got a good trade when they traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers. Normally when a superstar declares that he wants out of a situation most teams try and low ball the team with the superstar – knowing that neither the team nor the superstar wants to spend a blown year where they won’t contend or get a high enough draft pick. What the Pelicans did is they decided to cut the cord before it was too late and traded Anthony Davis for what seemed like a group of talented players who just hadn’t had their chance to shine yet. Fast forward to present day and Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram in particular are still the same players. They show flashes of brilliance only to get hurt way more than you would expect for young players and then sit out for too many games and come back looking rusty and failing to capitalize on their potential.
Zion, on the other hand, was supposed to be able to come in and make an impact right away. In the preseason he looked dominate. The problem is you can tell that his knee injury from Duke has never really healed. Since that injury he came back, played a few games for Duke, then played a half in his summer league game only to get hurt again and then he came back for preseason where he lasted three or four games and now he hasn’t made his debut yet. No matter how good Zion, Lonzo, and Brandon Ingram are they won’t do much if they can’t stay on the floor. I haven’t seen this much string of bad luck of injuries since the 76ers’ first round pick sitting out the season.
Ultimately, if I am the Pelicans, I take extra precautions with the previously mentioned players while giving some of my other young players opportunities to play. Even without the aforementioned players, the Pelicans still have a strong rookie class with Jaxson Hayes and Nickeal Alexander-Walker. I think they would be best off by letting Zion sit for the year and then come back next year well charged with another top pick like Anthony Edwards or Lamelo Ball, while trading Brandon Ingram while he is still hot. In the time that Ingram was able to play before getting hurt, it was clear that in today’s NBA he is a four man, which is the same position Zion plays. I trade him to any team willing to give up a first or a valuable young building piece that fits. Going into next year, the lineup should be Lonzo, Anthony Edwards, Alexander-Walker, Zion, and Hayes. This lineup would be too athletic for many teams and would have the right amount of scoring and team cohesion needed to start progressing to playoff wins.