Why the Pelicans wouldn’t go for Bradley Beal
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported in an article this morning that he spoke with 14 NBA executives over the weekend and asked which team they believed would be potential sleeper contenders to make a move for Bradley Beal this offseason.
“Six of the executives responded with the Pelicans; three said the Heat; two said the Knicks; and the Mavericks, Nuggets, and Spurs each got one vote,” the article said.
Not surprisingly, Pelicans Twitter went absolutely nuts. Considering the fact that Beal put up an average of 30.5 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game last season and the fact that he’s averaging 35 points through nine games this season should say enough about the current member of the Washington WIzards. The thought of adding Beal to the Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson duo and to a team that has had its struggles offensively sounds like a dream to most.
But not to everyone. While the majority of Pelicans fans were all-in on the idea of adding Beal, there’s a few skeptics who aren’t all in on making a trade for the two time all-star. Let’s breakdown a few reasons why:
It’s too early
The Pelicans as currently constructed haven’t played ten games yet together. Last year’s team didn’t even get a full season together due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stan Van Gundy didn’t get a full offseason with the team. The rotation has yet to be solidified by Van Gundy, and he recently said that he believes the defense isn’t working as it should (the Pels allow the most three pointers attempted and made by opponents and are 23rd in fast break points allowed).
The list of internal issues that have yet to be resolved could go on.
The main point to be taken away here, though, is the fact that another superstar may become available in the near future via trade.
Think about the amount of high level players that have requested a trade or, at the very least, made it clear they’re unhappy with the way their team is put together over the last five years.
Kyrie Irving – Cleveland AND Boston
Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio
Paul George – Indiana AND Oklahoma City
Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City AND Houston
James Harden – Houston
John Wall – Washington
Anthony Davis – New Orleans
Jimmy Butler – Minnesota
Again, those all happened in the last five years.
Do the Pelicans have time to wait? Not necessarily, but the likelihood of another superstar becoming available sooner rather than later could be a safe bet in today’s league.
The fit doesn’t make sense
Bradley Beal is an offensive wizard, no pun intended. Shooting guards who average 30+ points per game in an NBA season don’t come around every day.
On the other hand, Beal isn’t much of a defender, and the Pelicans could use some experience on that end of the floor at this moment in time (see previous stat line). While Beal’s offensive rating last season was awesome (114), his defensive rating was even worse (115). The season prior to that? His offensive rating was again, awesome (113), and his defensive rating was even more ugly (117).
Plus, even with all that scoring in the last few seasons, Beal hasn’t been all that great from deep. In 2019-2020 St. Louis native made just 35.3 percent of his threes — he shot 481. On a team that can’t defend the three like New Orleans — they also rank 27th in threes made per game (10.2 and dead last in three point percentage (32.3 percent).
Beal is a fantastic scorer, and would be able to do a lot for New Orleans — just not what they need.
The Pelicans would give up too much
New Orleans already lacks so much depth, it’s disheartening.
The Pelicans currently rank last in bench points per game (26.7), and although Josh Hart and J.J. Redick look to have gotten out of a scoring slump, that more than likely isn’t getting better any time soon.
With the bench already offering little-to-nothing in each game, it couldn’t get much worse, right? Well, hold that thought.
In a circumstance where Washington would willingly put Beal on the market, it’d be made clear the plan is to tear it all down and go full rebuild. In other words, they’d want as many picks and young talent they could acquire.
For New Orleans, a bevy of picks are available going forward, as they acquired picks from the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks in the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades.
Who immediately gets thrown onto the chopping block, then? Lonzo Ball, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. are the players most likely to be thrown to the wolves in such a scenario.
While Hayes and Ball have drawn their fair amount of criticism, Ball is a starter and Hayes has begun to show some positive signs. NAW has stepped up and shown flashes of starter-level play as a point guard, and Lewis is seen as a high-ceiling, fast point guard that could develop into something special.
Then there’s Hart and Wenyen Gabriel — Gabriel isn’t fully conditioned yet and is seen as someone who can drastically help the defense, and Hart is a guy every team wants and can use.
The bottom line
Bradley Beal is an all-star caliber player who can fill up the basket. He’d provide spacing and shot creation to a lagging offense, and the team would immediately improve.
But with the aforementioned factors, is it worth it?