By Casey Gisclair
The New Orleans Pelicans will lose in the first round of the postseason to the Golden State Warriors.
That much has already been decided. The Warriors are too deep, and the Pelicans are too young. The Pels will make it interesting at times, and the games will be closer than Steve Kerr would like for them to be.
But the Warriors will win—long before the seven-game limit.
Before you think that this is just another Casey Gisclair doom and gloom column about New Orleans pro basketball, please read a little deeper and see that this is truly not the case.
Even in defeat, I’m here to tell you that the Pels’ trip to the playoffs this season is huge for the future. I’m here to tell you that in the future, we’ll look back to this series as a turning point—the very last time that the team was the underdog and the squad expected to lose.
See, in the NBA, there’s a growth period that all teams go through when they’re building their roster internally—a learning curve of sorts.
Step one: You stink. That’s how you get the high draft pick to get better.
Chris Paul got traded, the Pelicans tanked, and Anthony Davis came gift packaged via a rigged NBA Draft lottery deal that former commissioner David Stern made with Tom Benson to convince him to buy the team.
I’m a shameless conspiracy theorist, and nine times out of 10, I’m wrong. But on this one, I’m not. I’m 100 percent convinced that the reason the NBA nixed the trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers was to set up another deal that would allow the league to hook the Pels up with a lottery win in the future.
But anyway, my conspiracy theory aside, step two: You stink some more as budding superstar matures and roster pieces converge.
The Pelicans were not very good the first few years of Davis’ career. Folks like to blame injuries, and that is a very legitimate gripe. But the Pels wouldn’t have won very many games the past few years even if at 100 percent health. The roster just wasn’t that good and Davis wasn’t his current dominant self at that time.
Step three: Experience success and fall short, but come back hungry and ready for more.
The Pelicans are at this stage in a team’s development right now. The team overcame all of the odds and got a little bit lucky when Kevin Durant missed most of the season with injury. They capitalized and made the playoffs. Anthony Davis will play lights out, but it won’t be enough, and the Warriors will win the series in pretty short order.
What happens next is where all the fun begins. When you end your season on a bad note, everyone enters the offseason hungry. Davis will continue to mature and blossom and will become even more dominant than he is today.
The Pels will tweak their roster and will get more talented.
With that enhanced talent, the team will continue to thrive. This trip to the playoffs is the start of many for the Pelicans, who could conceivably be one of the top teams in the NBA for the next several seasons with Davis at the helm.
Step four in the progression is to make a deep playoff run, but to come up just short of the NBA Title. This would be the stage that the Pelicans could reach in a year or two if they play their cards right.
Of course, the final step is winning the title and getting to the pinnacle.
No matter what happens in the future, this moment right now is one that we’ll look back to in the future – the start of a run for the Pels.
This year isn’t the year for New Orleans, but it’s still vital and useful nonetheless. This is the start of something special – the start of a run that will put professional basketball on the map in the Big Easy.