The New Orleans Pelicans will make the Western Conference playoffs. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are two of the most talented players in the NBA right now, and once the Pelicans get point guard Rajon Rondo back, they will look like a real playoff team. Rondo is expected to return some time this month. Currently, the team is also missing Solomon Thomas, Omer Asik, and Alexis Ajinca, all pretty sturdy role players.

Cousins is averaging 30 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two blocks per game so far this season. He has a field goal percentage of 48 and is shooting 36-percent from three-point land. The versatile big man leads the team in minutes per game, and he has been fully taking advantage of it.

The Pelicans’ other do-it-all big man, Davis, averages an impressive 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks per game, he is shooting 35-percent from deep as well, if his aforementioned per game statistics weren’t already impressive enough.

Based on those two players’ skills alone, the Pelicans will make the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed. For New Orleans to contend with the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets, the team must add another piece before the deadline.

Recently, the Pelicans were reported to be engaged in a three team trade that included the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons. The trade talk seemed to die down, but it included the Pistons receiving Eric Bledsoe, Pelicans acquiring Reggie Jackson, and the Suns collecting two first round picks in 2018 and 2019.

This trade rumour is now seemingly dead, which is terrific news for the Pelicans, adding Jackson would not have improved their team that noticeably. For NOLA to compete with the top teams out West, they have to get more scoring and skill for their All-Star big men to kick out to on the perimeter or making slashing back-door cuts.

They don’t own a plethora of assets by any means, but they can target trades for upcoming free agents, such as Wilson Chandler, Rodney Hood, Marcus Smart, or Danny Green. The team did sign veteran forward Josh Smith to help with the scoring load, but Smith has to prove he has something left in the tank after bouncing around the league.

If the Pelicans do not make a deal to acquire more talent, expect them to be eliminated in the first round by the Warriors or Thunder, but they will be in the postseason, ball movement like the example below would be wasted if it weren’t rewarded with a playoff berth.

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College student in Santa Monica, CA

My goal is to become a sports reporter.

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