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SB Nation Mock Expansion Draft: New Orleans Pelicans protected players

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The core three were obvious keepers, but read on to see who else we thought were worthy of protection.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In a fun little exercise, SB Nation decided to conduct a mock expansion draft this offseason that’s publishing across all the sister sites today. We were asked to select eight players that should be protected on the New Orleans Pelicans roster.

Back in July, C.J. McCollum interviewed Adam Silver prior to the 2017 Draft and asked him a slew of good questions. League expansion was one of the topics and here is what the NBA Commissioner had to say.

“I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises.”

Were an expansion draft to take place, all the teams in the league would be able to protect some of their players but not entire rosters. If it were to happen today, these are the eight that I’d protect:

  • Anthony Davis
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Cheick Diallo
  • Frank Jackson
  • Solomon Hill
  • E’Twaun Moore
  • Rajon Rondo

Consequently, these players would be left unprotected:

  • Omer Asik
  • Alexis Ajinca
  • Quincy Pondexter
  • Jordan Crawford
  • Ian Clark
  • Darius Miller

Asik and Ajinca are obvious choices because as we’ve seen demonstrated time and again, they do not fit Alvin Gentry’s schemes and strategies and take up precious space on the salary cap sheet.

Pondexter, bless his heart, has been dealing with injury forever so he cannot be counted on to contribute in the league again, let alone over an 82-game schedule.

Crawford, while exemplary through 19 games last season, is a one-dimensional player on his best days. Plus, he’ll be 29 soon so it’s difficult to expect more out of the basketball journeyman.

Clark and Miller were the two hardest to leave off so I can understand someone preferring either/both of them in place of say Rondo or Hill. Chances are I may come to regret this decision sometime later this season, but as it stands, Hill’s defense is invaluable to the starting lineup and Rondo’s experience is a much needed aspect on the Pelicans roster. Meanwhile, Clark and Miller have yet to prove they warrant inclusion on top-8 protected lists.

Would you guys make any changes or leave it as is?