David Griffin and the New Orleans Pelicans were given a lot of credit when they brought CJ McCollum to the Crescent City in a trade.
The Pelicans had to give up a bunch of players (including Josh Hart) and what became a 2025 1st-round pick in exchange for McCollum, but the move was what propelled the Pelicans into the playoffs and also set them up to be contenders next season when Zion Williamson returns.
But McCollum wasn’t the only player in the deal, Griffin also took a chance on Larry Nance Jr. who came back from injury to help the Pelicans in the playoffs and could be a very smart investment given his skillset.
CJ McCollum trade: Larry Nance Jr. gives the New Orleans Pelicans insurance
Larry Nance Jr. is a power forward who can defend three spots, finish lobs and put-backs and shoot decently from long range.
He gives the Pelicans some insurance for Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, as he can play with them, back them both up or fill in for either one if there happens to be an injury.
He also gives the Pelicans a potential backup plan if they decide not to extend Jaxson Hayes and instead either trade him or allow him to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Nance Jr. showed that he is probably going to be the one getting the crunch time minutes, as Hayes played little in the playoffs when coach Willie Green opted to go with the veteran. The two have some overlapping skills, so if Hayes doesn’t improve this season, the Pels could opt to re-sign Nance Jr. instead.
Nance Jr. also allows the Pelicans to go small at times to maximize their athleticism and scoring, which we saw against the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs.
He’ll be a weapon against some of the teams like Golden State who tend to go with smaller, more unconventional lineups.
Larry Nance Jr. was mostly an afterthought in the CJ McCollum trade, but he was actually a really nice get for David Griffin, who got some backup for his stars and some competition for Jaxson Hayes.