With the New Orleans Pelicans’ continued struggles, is it possible the top-three protected pick traded to Sacramento could stay with the Pels?
There is an under-the radar-story looming for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The franchise decided to take a swing for the fences and trade for center DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. They traded Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and two draft picks to get him.
With the recent struggles looming, could the biggest piece of this trade stay in New Orleans?
One of those picks is this year’s second round pick, but it also included a protected 2017 first round selection. That pick, at the time, seemed like a foregone conclusion to be heading to Sacramento. On the contrary, it is definitely still in play for New Orleans.
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The protection on the pick is top three, which means if the Pelicans win one of those top three positions, they get to keep the pick this season. In that situation, that pick would carry over to a top-one protected pick in 2018
We know what you’re probably thinking. This is not going to happen. The Pelicans are a long shot in the lottery to get into the top three.
Well not so fast my friends.
If the Pelicans continue to struggle the reminder of the season, they could have very realistic odds of getting one of those picks. Currently they sit with the 6th worst overall record in the league. That means if the lottery where to happen today, only five teams have better odds than them at the top three. That’s not bad odds.
There’s reasons to believe the Pelicans will play better down the stretch and likely finish just outside the playoffs. They could finish around the 10th or 11th worse record. At that point, it would be long odds for sure.
However, this is not a certainty. If they finish in the same or worse position as they are in now, the silver lining could come through and New Orleans could have Cousins AND a top three pick! That would be incredible for Pelicans fans.
Let’s take a quick look at the lottery odds. Here is a breakdown of the percentages, based on worst record.
FIRST PICK ODDS TOP THREE ODDS
- 25% for first pick 64.3% top three
- 19.9% 55.8%
- 15.6% 46.9%
- 11.9% 37.8%
- 8.8% 29.1%
- 6.3% 21.5%
- 3.6% 12.7%
- 3.5% 12.3%
As of today, the Pelicans would have a 21.5% chance to land in the top three of the draft. More than a one in five shot, which is pretty solid.
Let me ask the Pelicans fans a big question here:
Would you rather make a decent run for the remainder of the season, either barely missing the playoffs or making it as the 8th seed in the West for a series vs the Golden State Warriors, or would you rather end up having a rough 20-plus game stretch here and a great chance at landing in the top three of the draft?
It’s an interesting question for the fan base, one that can be weighed in on by everyone. However, it would be pretty awesome to land in that top three and have that asset, to continue to build te roster. The Pelicans could draft a player and keep them, to insert into the rotation, or they could flip the pick in another potentially big deal.
Having said all of this, the odds aren’t in the Pelicans favor. That is for sure. However, the reality of keeping the pick is very much in play and something fans can all keep in the back of our minds, as the season wraps up.