What Does The Addition Of CJ McCollum Mean For The Pelicans
The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching, with its conclusion this upcoming Thursday. The New Orleans Pelicans were in a situation of do we buy now to make a push for the playoffs and they did. The Pelicans went and traded for CJ McCollum, Tony Snell, and Larry Nance Jr. (see the trade details in the link below)
The Pelicans haven't had a non-draft acquisition this big since the Boogie Cousins trade. I wouldn't count the Anthony Davis trade because that was something that had to happen. With Boogie and now CJ, these trades were a shock when they happened. This trade is huge for the Pelicans for multiple reasons.
The addition of CJ McCollum shows fans, other teams, and more importantly Zion Williamson that the Pelicans are committed to winning. By adding a guard like McCollum you are getting a player that for his career has averaged 19 points 3 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 39% from 3 and 45% from the field. Those numbers reflect a bonafide scorer. But it is even better than that because earlier in his career he wasn't as good so the numbers are actually better now. From 2017 to the 2020-2021 season his point totals have gone up and at his highest which was last season, it was at 23 points per game. And with those 23 points per game came 4 assists as well.
When compared to Josh Hart or Nickeil Alexander-Walker who the Pelicans traded it's an immediate upgrade. Josh's best season statistically is this current season where he averages 13 points a game and 4 assists. That's just not going to cut the mustard as a starting shooting guard for a team with playoff aspirations that is also injured from time to time. And if you look at NAW's numbers, his best season is also this year with 12.8 points per game. Again that shows why offensively McCollum is an immediate upgrade.
McCollum also adds playoff experience and leadership to this team. The Pelicans are a very young and talented team. They have very little playoff experience if any at all. And if they make the play-in tournament having a guy like McCollum adds immediate leadership and experience.
The final reason why this trade helps the Pelicans immediately is the addition of Snell and Nance Jr more specifically Nance Jr. Those two players add depth and versatility. In the modern NBA, you need to be able to play big and small while being able to switch everything on the defensive end. Nance and Snell give you players who are long and can play multiple positions. For Coach Willie Green having versatility is everything in the NBA.
David Griffin said I will not make the same mistake as Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics. The Pelicans have so many assets that are just sitting in a treasure trove. And for the Pelicans to win and acquire talent Griffin had to use and will have to continue to use those assets. Until free agents see that the Pelicans are a winner they will have to bring in talent and draft well. The addition of CJ McCollum is the start of that process. He instantly gives you another scorer and creator to help Brandon Ingram until Zion comes back. It will be interesting to see if this team makes the play-in tournament. I think they can without Zion. It will be extremely difficult without him but it's possible with Ingram, McCollum, and Jonas. But if Zion can come back this year and be his dominant self then the Pelicans are a completely different team. They easily become a team that is capable of not only winning the play-in but winning a playoff round depending on the seeding.
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