The other trade the New Orleans Pelicans can make right now

Mikal Bridges, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Mikal Bridges, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

As we inch closer and closer to the deadline, the New Orleans Pelicans’ focus will likely continue to be on potentially acquiring forward OG Anunoby. This makes sense considering Anunoby’s stature as one of the premier two-way role players in the NBA. The perfect piece for a budding title contender like the Pelicans.

But what if there was a player of the same ilk, who might actually be better than Anunoby himself?

After a shocking deal that made Kevin Durant a member of the Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges is now rostered by the Brooklyn Nets, who now appear to be in full-on asset acquisition mode.

Does that mean that Bridges is attainable? Recent reports suggest that the Nets plan to hold on to him. But if the Durant deal has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can be available if the pot is sweet enough.

That leaves us with two questions: 1) is Bridges a better player than Anunoby, and 2) should the Pelicans forfeit the assets necessary to acquire him?

As for the first question, as we said, they are both of the same player archetype, with Bridges being the slightly superior version. Why is that?
Here’s a quick breakdown. Defensively, they have contrasting styles. Anunoby is more of a power puncher who uses his strength to push ballhandlers off their spots and to matchup against bigger opponents.

Meanwhile, Bridges uses his silkiness to negotiate ballscreens and stay attached to ballhandlers at all costs. And where Anunoby uses his strength, Bridges uses his length to bother his assignments. Impact-wise, the two are pretty close to equal.

It’s on the offensive side of the ball that Bridges really stands out. Both forwards are better scorers than most members of the “3-and-D” club, but Bridges is the vastly more efficient associate. For his career, he averages a True Shooting percentage of 61%, compared to Anunoby’s 57.3% average.

More importantly for the Pelicans – a team bereft of shooting – Bridges is the superior marksman. Free throw shooting percentage – one of the best indicators of a player’s overall shooting ability – favors Bridges (84.8%) by 11.4 percentage points over Anunoby (73.4%) for their careers.

This flows perfectly into the answer to question number two. We’ve heard about the kind of haul the Toronto Raptors are looking to secure in return for Anunoby’s services.

If you’re the Pelicans and you’re going to have to give all that up to get Anunoby, why wouldn’t you take that deal, add a little more icing to it, and send it over to the Nets for a slightly better version of him.

A friendly reminder that New Orleans has eleven first-round picks over the next five seasons! They definitely have the ammunition to get this deal done and need to pounce on the opportunity. With the promising core they have on their hands, they can’t afford to be the team that hoards unknown capital at the expense of obtaining proven talent.

Again, all this is contingent on the Nets being willing to part ways with Bridges before he even puts on a uniform. But if they are, the Pelicans better jump it immediately.

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