Basketball Barren? The future is anyone’s guess

New Orleans, Louisiana, is one of those backwoods cities that has yet to rise above a supporting role in the NBA. It’s not that the city has a short history, but it’s one that has been marred by frequent relocations, underperformance, and box office flops. The New Orleans Buccaneers, founded in 1967 while the ABA was still in existence, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1970, and the New Orleans Jazz, founded in 1974, moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979 to become the current Utah Jazz.

In 1994, the Minnesota Timberwolves attempted to relocate to New Orleans due to poor performance, but the move was canceled due to opposition from local fans. The city’s relationship with basketball and basketball teams seemed to be far from over, until 2002, when the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans 먹튀검증 and switched conferences from the East to the West.

The team remained the Hornets for a while before changing its name to the Pelicans for the 2013-14 season. This was because the bird that represents the state of Louisiana is the pelican. The original name, Hornets, was inherited by the Charlotte Bobcats, with whom the team was originally affiliated. So far, the team hasn”t had much success. Since its inception in 2002, the team has won one division title, in 2008.

The team hasn’t had many stars to represent the franchise, including Baron Davis and Chris Paul, but given their symbolism, it’s probably more accurate to say that they’ve literally moved on. The biggest disappointment is Anthony Davis (31‧208cm). The Pelicans drafted him in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, and since his sophomore season, he has solidified himself as the team’s leading scorer with over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.

His distinctive seagull eyebrows and playing style, which resembles that of former star Kevin Garnett, made him quite popular among fans in Korea. The nickname “Seagull” was widely used in various basketball communities, and his fan following grew. Interest in his hometown team, New Orleans, was also quite high. The arrival of a new star raised hopes for a team that hadn’t had a big franchise player in a long time, and with Davis, they could look to the future.

Unfortunately, Davis didn’t stay with New Orleans for long. After the 2018-19 season, he left for the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James, and his departure was marked by a series of feuds, including a takedown controversy, that left a deep scar on the Pelicans organization and fans. Even fans of other teams were saying, ‘Isn’t that too much?

Davis’s tirade seemed like it was going to be a long time coming for New Orleans. Luckily, they got lucky in the draft and were able to acquire star talent that went above and beyond: Zion Williamson, the “flying King Kong” (24‧198cm). The team beat the odds of 6 percent to land the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft rotation and used that good fortune on Williams, who has been called the biggest name in the game.

The draft was not what it seemed at the time, with a lot of high-profile, immediate impact players. So much attention was focused on Williamson that there were no shortage of steal picks. No. 2 pick JaMychal Morant (25-foot-1) showed the potential to be an all-time great guard with his explosive athleticism and offense, and he’s still considered a legitimate superstar candidate to lead the league barring an off-court incident.

No. 3 RJ Barrett (24-foot-9), No. 4 DeAndre Hunter (27-foot-203), and No. 5 Darius Garland (24-foot-185) have also been solid enough to be starters since their rookie years. No. 13 Tyler Hiro (24‧196cm) made an early impact for the Miami Heat, the team that drafted him with his long-range shooting ability, and helped lead them to the Finals.

The first member of that draft to win a Finals ring was No. 28 Jordan Poole (25‧193cm). The Golden State Warriors, who drafted him, had a lot of veterans with good offensive skills, including ace Steph Curry. Therefore, they preferred to select rookies who could do big things such as defense and hustle, but after a few seasons, the firepower of the backups dropped.

So Poole is the first rookie I’ve drafted in a long time that was based on offense. His weaknesses on defense were pointed out at the time of the draft, but the team needed an offensive player to back up Curry. Despite some concerns that he was drafted too early for his expectations, Poole showed off his offensive prowess from inside and outside the arc and contributed to the Finals win. Of course, he was once considered the next ace in the making, but now he’s off to the Washington Wizards after a series of bad luck.

In any case, Williamson’s expectations at the time of the draft were very different from other prospects. No matter which team had the first pick, chances are they would have taken Williamson regardless of preference or position overlap. You don’t pass on David Robinson because you have Hakeem Olajuwon on your team. Williamson was that kind of player.

At 6-foot-10 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Williamson’s size isn’t the most appealing trait in a big man, and he had weight issues. But Williamson had fearsome athleticism and a star personality that offset those factors. The tools were too good to pass up due to some insecurities. In the end, New Orleans chose Zion and staked their future on him.

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