12-8 • 3rd in WESTERN CONFERENCE
The New Orleans Pelicans are an American professional basketball team that plays in the Southwest Division of the National Basketball Association's Western Conference. The Pelicans were established in 2002 and they play their home games in the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Not having been in the league for more than two decades, it is not surprising that the Pelicans are yet to win their first NBA championship. They have been to the playoffs seven times, but the farthest they've gone is the second round. New Orleans has been to the Western Conference Semifinals twice, with their latest trip coming in 2018.
There have been a number of great players that have made a significant impact on the franchise through the years. The list of all-time greats for the Hornets/Pelicans includes Chris Paul, Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice, Larry Johnson, David West, and Baron Davis. More recently, Anthony Davis also earned legendary status with the squad prior to making the move to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In 18 seasons in the NBA, the Pelicans have made it to the playoffs on seven separate occasions. Their last trip to the postseason came during the 2017-18 campaign, where they were eliminated in the second round.
After upsetting the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers via a first-round sweep, the Pelicans were eventually eliminated in the second round at the hands of the eventual champs, the Golden State Warriors.
In the summer of 2019, the Pelicans turned a page in their franchise history books by trading away cornerstone superstar Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. New Orleans collected quite a haul from that deal, including the likes of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
That same offseason, the Pelicans beat the odds by winning the draft lottery. With their first overall pick, they selected Zion Williamson, who many believe will become the face of the NBA for many years to come.
The New Orleans Pelicans didn’t wait long to offer Brandon Ingram a max extension when free agency began, with Ingram agreeing to a five-year deal worth $158 million.
In his first season with the Pelicans following a summer blockbuster trade from the Los Angeles Lakers, Ingram had a tremendous debut campaign with his new side. He averaged 23.8 points (0n 46.3 percent shooting), 6.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.0 steals, while also connecting on 2.4 triples per contest on a 39.1-percent clip.
Right now, the only two names on New Orleans' roster that appear to be untouchable are Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. This is the duo the Pelicans intend to build around for their future, which means that everyone else could be available. This includes 23-year-old guard Lonzo Ball, who arrived with the Pelicans in 2019 as part of the Anthony Davis trade.
Last season, Ball averaged 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.4 steals, while also connecting on 2.3 triples on a 37.5-clip. It isn't hard to argue that Ball had the best season of his young career in 2019-20, which is probably why the Pelicans will seriously consider trading him in the offseason.
Ball has just one more year remaining on his current deal, so unless they offer him a hefty extension now, he will become a free agent at the end of the season. Ball is still young and has shown a ton of potential, and as such, might prove to be one of New Orleans' best trade assets when the deadline nears.
There's no denying that Zion Williamson is currently one of the most promising young stars in the league today. He is a generational talent, and one who has the makings of being the face of the league in the near future. The big question, however, is if he can remain healthy.
Zion had an impressive rookie campaign -- when he was on the floor at least. Injuries plagued his rookie season, and he wasn't able to make his debut until January. The youngster suffered a knee injury during the preseason, which kept him out for the first few months of the season. Intriguingly, this is the same knee that he tweaked during his infamous blown shoe injury at Duke.
It is also worth noting that Zion was on a strict minutes limit for pretty much his entire rookie campaign. The mid-season hiatus brought about by the pandemic didn't do his fitness any favors.
All things considered, however, it would be completely unfair to label Zion as "injury-prone" at this point. It's still way too early in his career to say if injuries will play a significant role in his future. For the sake of the Pelicans and the sport overall, let's hope that this is not the case.
The Pelicans splashed the cash on Brandon Ingram this offseason, signing him to a max five-year extension worth $158.3 million. This is an undeniably huge commitment for New Orleans, but one that was brought about by necessity.
Last season, Ingram averaged across the board career-best numbers of 23.8 points (on 46.3 percent shooting), 6.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.0 steals, while also connecting on 2.4 triples per game on a 39.1-percent clip. This earned the former second overall pick a well-deserved call up to the All-Star squad for the first time in his career.
Simply put, Ingram is one of the brightest young stars in the NBA, and he is a key piece of New Orleans' core. The Pelicans had to dig deep into their pockets to give him a max extension, but at the end of the day, letting him walk away for nothing would have been a travesty for the franchise.
Over the course of the next seven years, the Pelicans are in possession of 22 draft picks, including 11 first rounders (per RealGM). New Orleans were able to amass such a massive pick haul via several trades, with majority of them coming from the Anthony Davis deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, and more recently, the Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks trade.
Over the next three years, New Orleans currently has four first-round picks and seven second-rounders (could be six if their 2023 second-rounder falls between picks 46-60, then it goes to Atlanta).
Between 2024 and 2027, the Pelicans possess seven first-round picks as well as four second-rounders.
Over the first few games of the 2020-21 NBA season, newcomers Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams have provided us with a preview of how they might be integrated into the squad's current system.
Bledsoe still needs to get a few more reps to acclimatize himself with the squad, but it does seem like a Bledsoe-Lonzo Ball backcourt is going to be a dangerous duo that can get things done on both ends of the floor.
Adams has taken over the role as New Orleans' starting center. The sample size is extremely small in the 2020-21 season, but as it appears so far, the Pelicans have found themselves a legitimate center who could serve as this squad's defensive anchor in the middle.
Trading away Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks was an undeniably tough pill to swallow for the Pelicans. After spending the past seven years in New Orleans, the former All-Star point guard established himself as one of the most important players on the squad. Being one of the best two-way players in his position, there's no denying that the Pelicans will miss the services of the 6-foot-3 combo guard.
Then again, it's easy to see why trading away Holiday was a great move for New Orleans. This move provides Lonzo Ball with a clearer path to emerge as the squad's point guard of the future. Moreover, the Pelicans also got Eric Bledsoe in the deal, who himself also possesses a similar skill set with Holiday. The fact that New Orleans hauled in two future first-round picks, the right to swap two more first-round picks, and Steven Adams only makes this deal sweeter.
New Orleans will miss Holiday, but given what they got in return, it's still a huge win for the Pelicans.
Forbes lists the franchise's value at $1.35 billion (February 2021).
During the 2019-20 season, the Pelicans earned a total revenue of $209 million over an operating income of $44 million.
The Pelicans have one of the most exciting young cores in the league, led by the insanely popular Zion Williamson. Their rise to fame will likely have a proportionate impact on the franchise's growth in value moving forward.
Gayle Benson is the owner of the Pelicans. The 73-year-old billionaire took over the principal ownership of the franchise back in 2018 when her husband, Tom Benson, passed away.
As of September 2020, Gayle Benson has a listed net worth of $3.3 billion.
Benson also owns the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. She is the first woman to own both an NBA and NFL franchise.
After parting ways with Alvin Gentry, the Pelicans brought on Stan Van Gundy as their new head coach. The 61-year-old is now tasked to lead the development of this young and promising side.
The last we saw Van Gundy in the NBA was during the 2017-18 season with the Detroit Pistons. He spent four seasons as Detroit's head coach. Van Gundy also had previous stints with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.
Having been a head coach in the league for a total of 12 years, Van Gundy has amassed a total career record of 523 wins against 384 losses ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Even though Alvin Gentry is gone, the Pelicans kept a trio of assistants onboard. Fred Vinson returns to New Orleans for his 11th season with the franchise, Teresa Weatherspoon was promoted to assistant coach for her second season in NOLA, and Player Development coach Darnell Lazare also returns.
The Pelicans’ new assistant coaches are Bob Beyer, Casey Hill, and Rex Walters. Beyer was an assistant with the Sacramento Kings last year, Casey Hill was an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers, and Walters was most recently in the NBA in 2017-18 as an assistant on Stan Van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons staff.
One could argue that Byron Scott had the most memorable stint as a New Orleans’ head coach. He led the squad to two playoff appearances between 2005 and 2010.
Alvin Gentry, who himself amassed 173 wins as the Pelicans head coach, is also an all-time great. His most memorable accomplishment has to be their 2018 upset of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, as the Anthony Davis-led Pelicans swept Damian Lillard and Co. in the opening round.
Finally, Monty Williams rounds out our list. He does not hold the best win-loss record, but there's no denying that he played a pivotal role in the development of Davis.
Starting as the New Orleans Hornets, this franchise was established in 2002, leaving behind all previous history in Charlotte for the expansion Bobcats, renamed the Hornets in 2014. Despite being one of the younger franchises in the NBA, this team has featured more than a few great players throughout its history.
All-Star point god Chris Paul has got to be at the very top of the list for his countless contributions to the squad for the six seasons he was with the team.
Anthony Davis comes in as a close second, while David West, Jrue Holiday, and Alonzo Mourning round out the other three spots on the list.
When you say Pelicans, the first player who comes to mind has to be Anthony Davis. However, there are many other names that have earned legendary status during their time with the team.
Chris Paul is arguably the greatest player in franchise history, and there's no denying that he is a legend.
During the 1990s guys like Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Glen Rice, Dell Curry, and Muggsy Bouges certainly made their mark with the team, though their stats officially reside with the Charlotte Hornets
From the 2000s, we have the likes of David West, Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, P.J. Brown, and Peja Stojakovic.