The Pelicans gearing for playoff push with deadline deal

Devonte' Graham, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Devonte' Graham, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

As we close in on the end of one of the most chaotic trade deadlines in league history, the New Orleans Pelicans have finally joined the party.

The Pelicans have acquired San Antonio Spurs guard Josh Richardson in exchange for Devonte’ Graham and four second-round picks, per Shams Charania.

With this trade, the Pelicans were able to acquire the “3-and-d” wing/forward they had been aiming to acquire during the deadline, as evidenced by their interest in OG Anunoby.

On the year, Richardson is shooting 35.7% from the three-point line. That number seems low, but keep in mind his shot diet has been a lot more difficult this season, with him being asked to carry a larger load on the 28th-ranked offense in the league.

Last season provided a more accurate depiction of his shooting stroke as he was able to split time between the Boston Celtics and a more competitive iteration of the Spurs. In that sample, he averaged 41.5% on 3.8 three-point attempts per game.

Now, he’ll be able to spend his time profiting off of the open looks created by his star teammates Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Shots like this one from Trey Murphy III will become a staple of his new meal plan:

He’ll also be bringing some defensive playmaking with him, which will be huge because creating turnovers is a big part of the Pelicans’ defensive philosophy (they are 8th in opponent turnover percentage). According to Cleaning the Glass, Richardson is in the 65th percentile in steal rate and 61st percentile in block rate for his position.

And unlike a potential Anunoby deal, this move didn’t cost the Pelicans any of their key assists. Second-round picks rarely ever convert into players of Richardson’s caliber (ironically enough, he was a second-round pick himself). And Graham, while by all accounts a great locker room presence, had been underwhelming on the court since his arrival to the team last season.

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