Yet another game featuring zero superstars for New Orleans.
For the second straight contest, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will be sidelined, this time when the Pelicans face the Lakers in Los Angeles. Can you tell the end of the regular season will mercifully be over in a mere few days?
Before we arrive at the finish line, however, two more games must be played out. Up first on the docket will be the Lakers, the team which waved the first white flag of the season. Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov have been healthy DNP’s for weeks now as a decision was made to hand all the keys to the young core in Los Angeles.
Development is a necessity for their franchise, but it is convenient how it has coincided with lots and lots of losing. The Lakers owe the 76ers their 2017 first round pick unless it winds up in the top 3. Just four meager wins during the months of February and March had pushed the odds in their favor, but four straight wins on the schedule have suddenly reduced their chances of retaining the enviable draft pick to just 46.9%. That’s not how one drives a tank!
Regardless, we here in New Orleans could care less about their plight. MVP voters once decided Kobe Bryant deserved a career achievement award over Chris Paul posting one of the best seasons ever witnessed by a point guard. Then the Lakers ousted the Hornets three years later from the 2011 playoffs. To top it all off, the Blue and Gold tried to steal CP3 in a trade and seem to be periodically linked as a future destination for AD.
I guess it’s hard to blame them for all the rumors though. D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance and Brandon Ingram don’t inspire all that much hope, at least not for me. Ingram will be lucky to achieve a tenth of what Durant has done in his career. I’ve never considered Randle a needle mover and the 22-year-old has done nothing this season to change my mind. Russell, while uber talented, doesn’t look poised to become one of the best in the league.
Now that we’ve emptied a clip in Los Angeles’ direction, let’s denounce New Orleans a bit. Since Big Cuz last played, the Pelicans have been whipped soundly at times by the Nuggets and Warriors. A nice opportunity to prove himself worthy of a huge contract this summer appears to have come and gone for Jrue Holiday. Solomon Hill has had all kinds of issues of doing anything remotely positive on offense for the umpteenth time again. And how troubling is it to watch Alexis Ajinca, a player long on Alvin Gentry’s periphery, and Quinn Cook, one of the freshest faces on the team, be among the most effective performers here in April? Seriously, outside of Cousins and Davis, who else truly excites you going forward?
Truth be told, I’m not trying to sound pessimistic about New Orleans next season, but I do feel as though many have become overly optimistic. In addition to the questions about the roster, I still don’t trust Alvin Gentry. I promise to go in depth about everything in the near future, but for now, let’s just toast this season away with a hurricane, hand grenade or some other local drink to help us forget yet another unfulfilling campaign in the Bayou.
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers
Where: Staples Center
When: April 11, 9:30 PM Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, TWSN, 99.5 FM WRNO