If the performances in the NBA Summer League is an early preview of how the season will play out for the New Orleans Pelicans, then fans should be plenty excited.
Now I know that some of the participants on the summer league team will not make the final roster, but I believe for the first time in several years, the rookie class will play a huge role in the success for the Pelicans this year.
I say that because the previous general manager, Dell Demps, rarely held on to rookies on his roster that he drafted. In fact, you can count on one hand the number of first-year players, drafted by the Pelicans, that he actually kept. Over Demps’ nine years in New Orleans 12 players were drafted by New Orleans and only three were kept — Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Darius Miller. Another rookie during this stretch worth noting is Frank Jackson, who was acquired in a trade, but he didn’t make an immediate impact, missing significant time due to an injury.
In just a few months with the Pelicans, the new regime, led by Vice President David Griffin and G.M. Trajan Langdon have brought in four new rookies during the draft and three of them have made strong impressions and appear to be well on their ways to making the team.
Those are Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Marcos Louzada Silva, the lone second round pick, signed with the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League, but his rights are still owned by the Pelicans, meaning he could be brought back to the States in the future.
And even though Williamson played in essentially half of a summer league game and sat the remainder of the summer due to an injury, the first overall pick made quite an impact showing intensity and athleticism.
Once the Anthony Davis trade — that Hayes and Alexander-Walker were a part of — cleared, they made their debut and immediately made their marks. Hayes showed his flashiness with his highlight-reel dunks and his aggressiveness in rebounding. Alexander-Walker with his passing and scoring abilities.
Although the Pelicans’ run ended Sunday with a semifinal loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the performances by the rookies and second-year players was quite impressive and should make Pelicans’ fans feel positive and excited for what’s to come.
And if these are the types of performances that they can have during the summer league, the big question is how will it translate to the regular season?