There is rarely a dull day in the NBA, but the news that the New Orleans Pelicans are interested in acquiring the No. 2 pick from the Charlotte Hornets in the 2023 NBA Draft is particularly interesting.
Not in the least because of the main reason the Pelicans have been in the news cycle as of late is due to the scandal surrounding star forward Zion Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Williamson, announcing his fatherhood on social media last week, would instantly be bombarded on social media by women he allegedly had previous relationships with.
The drama might make for a fine social media spectacle in regard to the entertainment value. However, as a player who already was on the hot seat in New Orleans because a lengthy history caused partly by poor nutritional habits, it's not the type of attention Zion or the Pelicans were looking for this offseason.
It could simply be coincidence that within days of Williamson's drama beginning that they've been linked to a blockbuster trade.
But what if it's not, and the Pelicans are beginning to visualize future led by a new face of the franchise? A player like G League Ignite guard and projected No. 2 pick Scoot Henderson.
The perfect trade offer Pelicans must make to draft Scoot Henderson
Unless there are other players that the New Orleans Pelicans particularly covet in this trade, they need to make the deal as simple as possible, trading Zion Williamson to the Charlotte Hornets straight-up for the No. 2 overall pick.
Pelicans receive: 2023 No. 2 pick
Hornets receive: Zion Williamson
Though the Pelicans would arguably have interest in a veteran piece such as guard Terry Rozier, who could both start while Scoot Henderson acclimates himself to the NBA and stabilize their second unit. With that in mind, the New Orleans bench averaged 31.8 points per game last season, ranking 23rd in the NBA.
However, the Hornets need Rozier just as much as the Pelicans. Not only because of the injury history of LaMelo Ball, but because of inexperience of players like James Bouknight and Bryce McGowens.
Why the Pelicans make the trade
The New Orleans Pelicans are a playoff-contender with or without Zion Williamson, as stars Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum have done an excellent job as scorers and playmakers since joining the franchise.
However, because of that, every game that Zion misses due to injury — and there have been nearly 200 thus far — is devastating. Although there's no guarantee that Scoot Henderson will excel or remain healthy, the Pelicans simply need to take a chance on a player that could be next like a long line of explosive guards that go onto have All-Star careers.
Henderson, 19 years old, is built much like future Hall of Fame point guard Russell Westbrook at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.
With an amount of athleticism and tenacity that translates on both ends, the Marietta native averaged 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 1.0 steal per game for the G League Ignite in 2022-23. Though those numbers aren't exactly spellbinding, Henderson averaged 21.2 points, 6.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game for the Ignite during the Showcase Cup, demonstrating what he can do with a larger role in a pressure situation.
Much like his head-to-head matchup against projected No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama and the Metropolitans 92 on Oct. 22, in which he notched a double-double with 28 points (on 11-21 shooting from the field) and 11 assists while leading the Ignite to a victory. The gangly Wembanyama would finish with 37 points while hitting seven 3-point attempts.
Why the Hornets make the trade
For one, the Charlotte Hornets don't seem to be completely sold on Scoot Henderson's fit with the team, or Alabama forward Brandon Miller in general.
However, there's no question what Zion Williamson can do on the court when healthy, with a combination of size, strength and athleticism that makes him similar to a miniature Shaquille O'Neal. Averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game over the course of his career, Williamson will arguably become the face of a franchise that already has a promising young star in playmaker LaMelo Ball.
Speaking of Ball, a 6-foot-7 floor general? LaMelo is one of the few players who can actually elevate Williamson's game, as Ball is an elite facilitator and would force defenses into plenty of tough decisions in regard to how they guard Williamson.
On a slightly unrelated note, a South Carolina native in Zion playing for a franchise still owned by North Carolina native Michael Jordan might just benefit the sales of the Hornets in other ways too. An expansion franchise that became part of the league in 1988, Zion provides a Carolina-based franchise with a homegrown talent. One with true Hall of Fame potential if he remains healthy.
As one of the bottom-ranking teams as it relates to team revenue, adding Williamson should be a win for the organization on the court and in the bank.