Thankfully New Orleans Pelicans fans were not on pins and needles tonight watching the NBA Draft Lottery on ESPN. A playoff trip kept the Pelicans out of that drama. Their first round pick, the 18th overall, is in the hands of the Houston Rockets. Currently looking at the mock drafts from both SB Nation and Draft Express finds the Rockets selecting Duke point guard Tyus Jones.
The bounty of that trade which sent the first round selection to Houston is Omer Asik, soon-to-be an unrestricted free agent. After the lottery concluded it is obvious that the Western Conference will be even bigger and stronger next year. Kentucky's Karl Anthony-Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor are headed to Minnesota and Los Angeles in some order. Add them to the heap which includes Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan. For all the talk of the league getting smaller that is not the case in the West.
Even "lesser" big men dot the Western landscape; Andrew Bogut, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, and Alex Len all man the pivot throughout the conference. This list even omits the ageless Tim Duncan, because he has to retire eventually. Right?
Why list all the various big men in the Western Conference?
Anthony Davis is a power forward. He says so repeatedly when asked. For all the consternation when the Pelicans were swept by the Golden State Warriors the path to a championship will certainly be paved with big men to deter New Orleans. A big man next to Anthony Davis, one to lighten his load and the beating he takes throughout the year, is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
Does that require it to be Omer Asik? Of course not. Asik is simply the easiest competent big man for New Orleans to obtain right now. The next head coach certainly will want input on the next Pelican center. Could it be Westbank native Greg Monroe? I dug into pursuing him last week after Monty Williams was fired. Oleh has already outlined a number of Asik alternatives; Tiago Splitter, Kosta Koufos, and Bismack Biyombo.
Whoever the Pelicans select, he better bring his big boy pants. The West isn't getting any easier, or smaller.