The New Orleans Pelicans will face the Brooklyn Nets in a Sunday matinee. The seasons for both teams concluded weeks ago, but as to where one's future is preordained, anothers is wildly undecided. The Nets 2016 first round pick belongs to the Boston Celtics, so regardless of where they finish in the standings, their future has been predetermined. On the other hand, New Orleans has a chance to draft immediate help, perhaps in the form of Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray or Buddy Hield.
The Brooklyn disaster originated back in the summer of 2013 when the Nets agreed to a trade to bring in Paul Piece and Kevin Garnett. At the time, the organization had assumed it had struck gold by adding two two champions, albeit aging, to their roster. The Nets made the Eastern Conference semifinals that season but were eliminated in the first round the following year. In return, the Boston Celtics received three first round picks and the right to swap first rounders in 2017.
Looking back, would anyone disagree that Danny Ainge fleeced Mikhail Prokhorov?
The Nets possess the second-worst win/loss record in the Eastern Conference at 22-51. Outside of Brook Lopez, many would argue they're no better than a D-League team. Sean Kilpatrick, who was signed at the end of February, has likely been the third best player to represent the team. Sigh. Bill Simmons and all other Celtics' fans continue to reap the benefits from that ill-fated deal, so the Nets' roster needs to pray for multiple free agency miracles?
With no incentive to commandeer a tank, the Nets should be striving for wins. Yet since the start of March, they've managed to post four wins out of sixteen games. Over the same time frame, the Pelicans have won five times in seventeen tries, amid a countless number of games missed by key personnel.
Whose tank will prove more potent? Yeah, I fear the answer to this question too.
3 Things to Watch
- Tim Frazier. According to Basketball Monster, Frazier has been the Pelican's second most valuable player behind Toney Douglas the last two weeks. I'll go into detail regarding his specific exploits tomorrow, but for now, I'll leave you with this: Only three other players have averaged over 17 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists per 36 minutes this season for their currently respective teams.
Brook Lopez. Lopez is one of the most dominant centers in the league, but he's not of the double-double variety. Rather, he's an efficient offensive machine, accruing plenty of points from wherever he is on the floor. My favorite? His efficiency from the free throw line. In 8 seasons, standing at a height of 7 feet, he owns a career 79.1 FT%.
- Win streak. The Pelicans have won four straight games against the Nets. Will that change Sunday afternoon? Tank riders will be praying for an affirmative.