We limited our rebuild projects to the end of the 2021 NBA Finals.
2017 - Year 1
Started Season Today and imported EmbraceThePace 2K17 Draft Class
Just days away from the All-Star break, my New Orleans Pelicans hold the 9th seed in the Western Conference at 26-29. I pulled the trigger on a trade offer, sending guards Tim Frazier and E'Twaun Moore to the Atlanta Hawks for rookie Taurean Prince and Tiago Splitter's expiring contract. At the end of the day it was a salary dump, as Moore is owed $8 million over the next three seasons.
My team played .500 ball the remainder of the year, finishing 40-42, two games out of the final playoff spot in the West.
LeBron James took home his 5th MVP trophy, and his first since 2013.
Joel Embiid was crowned the Rookie of the Year.
Anthony Davis was named to the NBA first team, finishing the season averaging 28.2 points, 13 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, defeating the Portland Trailblazers 4-2. LeBron was named the MVP, averaging 26.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 2.3 steals and a block. He also recorded a triple double in the Cavs game two victory.
Top 5 Draft PicksCeltics - Harry Giles
Suns - Lonzo Ball
Magic - Malik Monk
Heat - Markelle Fultz
Mavericks - Ivan Rabb
The Pelicans were awarded the 14th pick in the draft via the lottery and we selected the best available player on the board, which was Marques Bolden, a center from Duke University. At 6'11, 238 lbs, he will fit nicely playing next to Anthony Davis in the front court.
In the second round, we selected Jaron Blossomgame, a forward from Clemson.
A blockbuster trade went down on draft night, sending Eric Bledsoe and Jared Dudley to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Phoenix Suns received the T'Wolves 9th overall pick, and selected De'Aaron Fox from Kentucky.
After a disappointing 2016-2017 season (11.8 points, 37%), I could not justify giving Tyreke Evans a 3-year deal worth over $50 million, so I let him walk in free agency. However, I did re-sign Jrue Holiday to a 3-year deal worth $53 million.
In free agency I made some minor moves, bringing in veterans Jeff Green and Kyle Korver. Unfortunately, the money was not there to make a big splash.
Paul Milsap signed with the Phoenix Suns and Rudy Gay joined the Orlando Magic.
Serge Ibaka and the Indiana Pacers agreed on a deal.
2018 - Year 2Imported EmbraceThePace 2K18 Draft Class
In a very surprising trade offer, I was able to trade Omer Asik and his 3-year $34 million deal and Terrence Jones to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jordan Clarkson. Not sure why they would offer this deal but it was a no brainer for me!
A midseason trade went down on February 17 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, sending DeAndre Jordan to OKC for Victor Oladipo and a 2020 1st round pick (top 3 protected).
At the All-Star break, we were 31-26, leading the Southwest division and the #4 seed in the West.
We finished the year 43-39, making the playoffs as the 5th seed, but missing out on a division title by just a single game behind the Houston Rockets. They would be our opponent in the 1st round of the playoffs.
Russell Westbrook took home the MVP award, averaging a triple double on the year - 29.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 2.8 steals.
Lonzo Ball won the ROY for Phoenix and of course, Tyreke Evans (who ended up signing with the Utah Jazz) won the Sixth Man of the Year award
NBA PlayoffsIn five games, we lost to the Rockets. The series started out ugly, losing games 1 & 2 on the road by 23 & 22 points. We lost game 3 at home, but played much better losing by four. To avoid a sweep we won game 4 106-99 before losing game 5 by just two points, on a James Harden game winner with just 2.1 seconds left.
Harden dominated the series averaging 30.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. Anthony Davis did all he could to keep us in the series - 22.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. Holiday added 15 points per game and Jordan Clarkson chipped in 14 in the series.
The Golden State Warriors went on to defeat the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals 4-2. The Raptors beat the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals 4 games to 2.
Steph Curry was the Finals MVP - 33.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.8 steals.
For a second straight season, the Boston Celtics had the best odds at winning the draft lottery thanks to the Brooklyn Nets. This year, they lost out to the Atlanta Hawks and had to settle for the 2nd pick.
Top 5 PicksHawks - Luka Doncic
Celtics - DeAndre Ayton
Kings - Wendell Carter
Suns - Mohamed Bamba
Spurs - Trevon Duval
Boston offered me the 2nd overall pick, as well as a 2020 lottery pick in exchange for Anthony Davis, but I quickly declined it. Instead I kept my 20th overall pick and drafted guard Troy Brown Jr. from Oregon.
Carmelo Anthony left the New York Knicks to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Following last years strategy, I went ahead and signed a pair of veteran players in Patrick Beverely and Al Jefferson.
Next season I will look to shed some salary cap so I can make a big move in the offseason, in hopes to pair Davis up with another superstar.
2019 - Year 3
- Jrue Holiday
- Buddy Hield
- Solomon Hill
- Anthony Davis
- Marques Bolden
10 games into the season, Bolden broke his leg, forcing 33 year old Al Jefferson into the starting lineup.
Just two days after the injury to Bolden, I was able to trade Holiday and Hill to the Miami Heat for Hassan Whiteside and Thabo Sefolsha. This makes a ridiculous duo up front with Davis and Whiteside, and allows Jordan Clarkson to move into the starting lineup and take over as the teams starting PG.
In the first 11 games after the Whiteside trade, the team went 10-1 and won 8 straight games.
At 23-11, Bolden returned and now gives two good options in big men off the bench between him and Jefferson.
Derrick Favors and a 2nd round draft pick were traded by the Utah Jazz to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.
The team was 24-14 and 1st place in the Southwest division, but then Whiteside suffered a broken left ankle. This moved Bolden back into the starting 5.
Despite the injuries, the team made it to the All-Star break at 34-22.
This Pelicans team has everyone believing we are the real deal. With an 18-6 record in the second half and just two games left in the season, Whiteside returned from injury.
This is the second straight year that the team has made the playoffs, and our record has improved in each of the last two seasons as well. We finished this year 53-29, winning the division and grabbing the #3 seed in the West.
LeBron James won his sixth MVP award at the age of 34.
For a second straight year, we will face James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.
Phoenix Suns Rebuild Project
NBA PlayoffsThis year, we were able to put up a great fight and hold off the Rockets in game 7 on our court to win the series 4-3. Harden, who killed us all series, shot just 6-19 in game 7. Davis (23 & 11) and Whiteside (17 & 11) each averaged a double double in the series and they combined for over 4 blocks a game.
In round two we took on Damian Lillard and the Blazers. In shocking fashion, we swept the Blazers to advanced to the Western Conference Finals, to take on the Golden State Warriors.
In the process of making the Western Conference finals, Jordan Clarkson suffered a MCL injury and would miss the rest of the playoffs. This is exactly why I signed a veteran like Patrick Beverley, who can step up and fill the void at PG moving forward.
Regardless of the injury to Clarkson, the Warriors proved that they are on a whole different level than us, and beat us in 5 games. They went on to sweep the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals and Steph Curry was once again crowned finals MVP.
During the draft, the San Antonio Spurs traded LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills for the Clippers 4th overall pick and a 2021 first rounder.
Not loving the talent available with the 26th overall pick, I traded my first and 2nd round picks to the Chicago Bulls for a 2020 1st round pick that is top 3 protected.
Hassan Whiteside decided to opt out of his contract but thankfully, I was able to get him to come back to NOLA
I signed free agent forwards Doug McDermott and Jerami Grant, as well as center Ed Davis to come off the bench and improve the second team.
2020 - Year 4
- Jordan Clarkson
- Buddy Hield
- Taurean Prince
- Anthony Davis
- Hassan Whiteside
As we move into February, the Pelicans are looking like true contenders. Five players are scoring in double figures, led by Davis' 19.7. Three players are averaging at least 9 rebounds and three players are averaging more than 4 assists per game.
Tied for the best record (36-15) in the Western Conference, we have a marquee matchup, as we host the Warriors for first place. In a defensive battle, we were able to beat the Warriors by a single point, outscoring them 17-13 in the final quarter. Davis and Hield each scored 20 points, while Whiteside added a double double. Ed Davis blocked 3 shots. Steph Curry dropped 28, but Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined for just 26 points on 10-31 shooting. If we meet them in the Western Conference Finals, it will be a classic series.
At the trade deadline, I had a tough decision to make. Loaded in the frontcourt, I had to decide whether or not I move either Hassan Whiteside or Marques Bolden in order to improve and add depth to the back court. Whiteside is the superstar but also 30 years old. Bolden is just 22 years old and averaging 11 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks off the bench.
I decided to pull the trigger on a deal for the Lakers D'Angelo Russell. I sent Whiteside and a 2022 first rounder for the point guard.
The new starting 5 heading into the second half of the year - D'Angelo Russell, Buddy Hield, Taurean Prince, Anthony Davis and Marques Bolden.
The bench will look like this - Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, Doug McDermott, Al Jefferson and Ed Davis.
We finished the second half 16-9, clinching the #3 seed in the West.
Russell Westbrook won his second MVP award, averaging a triple double for a fourth straight season!
In the first round we drew the OKC Thunder. Great, we face the MVP.
NBA PlayoffsDespite taking game 1 of the series, we lost a veteran presence in Al Jefferson who suffered a lower right leg stress fracture, ending his season and possible his career.
After leading 2-1 in the series, we would go on to lose the next three games, ending our season in stunning fashion.
Westbrook dominated, averaging 27.6 points, 10 rebounds, 10.8 assists and 2.5 steals. He dropped 46 points in game 4. Russell led the scoring for us with 21.3 points and added 8.2 assists. Davis posted 19.6 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The Warriors wound up winning the NBA Finals. Up 3-0 against the Thunder in the Western Finals, they allowed OKC to tie things up before taking game 7. They then went on to beat the Bulls in the NBA Finals 4-3. Kevin Durant was crowned the MVP.
Losing Jordan Clarkson to the Kings in free agency, I signed J.J. Redick to fill the void and also brought in point guard Tyus Jones and veteran Rudy Gay as we look to make one final run to the NBA finals.
2021 - Year 5
- D'Angelo Russell
- J.J. Redick
- Rudy Gay
- Anthony Davis
- Marques Bolden
Just five games into the season, we get awful news as Russell is out 4-6 weeks with a broken left forearm. Thankfully we signed Jones, as he will now step into the starting lineup.
After missing just 18 games, Russell is back and the team was able to hold their own leading the division at 16-7. Russell looks just fine in his first game back, scoring 26 points in 28 minutes in a 27 point blowout against the Suns.
Just as things were looking good for this team (22-8), we lose our starting center as Bolden tore his right MCL and could miss up to 3 months! Cheick Diallo will step into the starting role for now.
We reach the All-Star break on a 9 game win streak, and leading the division (3rd in conference) at 42-15. Even better news is that Bolden will rejoin the team in a week when we host the Grizzlies.
With just 3 weeks left in the season, and the team just four wins away from 60, Anthony Davis goes down with knee tendinitis. This could keep him out of the first round of the playoffs!
We finish the year 62-20.
Steph Curry takes home his 3rd MVP award, and his first since 2016.
As the #2 seed, we matchup with the Blazers.
NBA PlayoffsWe beat Portland pretty easily 4-2, as Russell stepped up in a big way, leading the team with 26.5 points.
As we get set to take on the #3 Suns, led by Lonzo Ball, reports are that Davis will rejoin the team for game 1 of the series!
The #8 seed Denver Nuggets knocked off the #1 seed Golden State Warriors in six games.
We breezed past the Suns in five games. Davis was a beast defensively, blocking 5 or more shots in three of those games.
Rooting for the Nuggets to knock off the Rockets, they came up just a little short and lost the series 4-2. We now battle with James Harden, again, this time to reach the NBA Finals.
After splitting the first two games, we would win three straight to reach the NBA Finals! We will now face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Russell scores 40 points
Davis 16 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
LeBron 25 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists
Kevin Love 33 points, 15 rebounds
Davis 18 points, 7 rebounds
Tyus Jones 7 assists, 5 steals off the bench
LeBron 26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists
Love 23 points, 13 rebounds
Russell 30 points
Hield 20 points
Davis 16 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Kyrie Irving 31 points, 9 assists
Love 20 points, 17 rebounds
LeBron 10 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 turnovers
Keep your heads up NOLA. As long as you have Anthony Davis, there is hope for your franchise!