Two things that are constantly brought up as issues with the New Orleans Pelicans are consistent shooting and defense. Surrounding Zion Williamson with reliable shooters can open up a whole new game for the Pelicans. Two targets that are not talked about a lot are Taurean Prince and Jae Crowder.
New Orleans Pelicans: Jae Crowder is the 3-and-D wing the Pels need
Crowder has been a part of back-to-back NBA Finals as a member of the Heat and the Suns and is exactly the type of player to add around Zion. His playoff experience and high-octane gameplay could be just what the Pelicans need in a player. Crowder is accustomed to coming off the bench and being plugged into the starting role as needed, so he could be a key rotational piece for New Orleans.
Jae Crowder is widely regarded as a “3 and D” player. His consistent shooting and energetic defense have earned him starting roles in the playoffs each of the last two seasons. This past season, he averaged 10.1 points per game, 2.1 assists per game, and 4.7 rebounds per game. He boasted a 3PT% of 38.9% and a shooting percentage of 40.4%, but it’s his 3-point shooting that would interest the New Orleans Pelicans.
If Phoenix is open to moving Crowder, they may require a bigger haul. New Orleans would likely need to be willing to part with a variety of picks and young talent. One other potential upside, though, is that Phoenix has the cap space to take on the contract of Eric Bledsoe. If the Suns are willing to trade Crowder, New Orleans needs to be the first and last call.
Taurean Prince is a low-cost option the Pelicans could definitely get
Although Taurean Prince is not the most well-known player, he can and has provided valuable minutes for a number of teams. He had the most success during his tenure with the Atlanta Hawks, but he has also played for teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets.
Prince is a lights-out shooter when he gets hot, and he can heat up at any time. Putting a guy like Prince under the guidance of Fred Vinson could elevate his game and the team’s overall success. The Pelicans could likely acquire Prince for a relatively low price tag, so there is really no reason why David Griffin should not go for it.
In this past season, Prince averaged 9.5 points per game, 1.9 assists per game, and 3.5 rebounds per game. He also held a 3PT% of 40.0% and a FG% of 40.1%.
Prince could add a new element to the Pelicans by being solely a shooter. The front office could get Prince for cheap, so why not improve?
Picture this: Zion Williamson drives to the paint, taking three defenders with him. He looks and kicks the ball out to a wide-open Jae Crowder on the wing who drains the catch-and-shoot jumper. The Pelicans go up by two and Crowder strips the ball, sealing the victory.
If the Pelicans want to be playoff contenders, the situation I just described needs to be the norm. David Griffin has a lot of work to do this offseason, but his job could be made significantly easier by trading for Jae Crowder and Taurean Prince.