In a wild turn of events, All-Star Donovan Mitchell has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With both Rudy Gobert and Mitchell now out, how does this affect the Pelicans in the Western Conference?
Last season, the Jazz finished 5th in the West, while the Pelicans were 8th. After losing two star players, the Jazz are likely to drop down in the standings. The Pelicans may have not made many offseason additions, but getting a healthy Zion Williamson back to a core that made the playoffs should boost them in the standings..
The Pelicans have a group of young, defensive-minded players to go along with their “Big 3” and the West should be on notice that they are on the way up. That path just got a little easier with the Utah Jazz basically tapping out of the season.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers
The Pels play the Jazz in the home opener on October 23rd and then two more times on December 13th and 15th in Utah. The Pels go to Cleveland once on January 16th and the Cavs visit the Smoothie King Center on February 10th. These should be very winnable games for the Pels. Although they won’t be on National Television, these games will be good to watch.
The Pels get Utah and their rebuilding roster three times and only have to play the Cavaliers twice, so the Mitchell trade was a net gain for New Orleans.
The home opener against the Jazz will be electric, especially after an amazing atmosphere the Blender had during the playoffs. The Jazz and Pelicans do have some history with each other and these games will be competitive even though the rosters are much different than they were in years past.
Being able to see Collin Sexton go up against Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones will be a great matchup for rising stars, but the Pelicans are in a much-better position to sweep these games now that Mitchell and Gobert are gone.
The Donovan Mitchell trade will not only give the Pels some easier games, but will take another contender out of the Western Conference, which should help New Orleans’ chances of climbing to the top of the West.