The Pelicans have had one of the biggest roller coaster seasons in the league this season, starting 1-14, making the play-in tournament as a 9-seed, and winning two games to get into the playoff picture.
After Sunday night’s big win against the NBA-best Phoenix Suns at home, the Pelicans are two wins away from one of the biggest upsets in NBA Playoffs history. But none of this would have been possible without a midseason trade.
In February, the Blazers sent C.J. McCollum to the Pelicans in a package highlighted by Josh Hart and a future first-round selection.
If the trade didn’t happen and everyone stayed with their original team, not much would have changed on Portland’s side. Maybe the end of the season wouldn’t have been as much of a drag as it was, but playoffs are not on the table for the Blazers. If McCollum went on a tear, maybe the Blazers sniff the 10-seed and the play-in, but they wouldn’t have made it into the playoff picture in all likelihood.
In 26 regular season contests with the Pelicans, McCollum averaged 24.3 points per game while shooting almost 40 percent from distance.
In four playoff games, McCollum has stayed pretty consistent, averaging 24 points while shooting 40 percent from the field. He trails only Brandon Ingram in scoring.
Ingram has elevated his game to a career-best during the series against the Suns, but the biggest reason why this trade helped the Pelicans is the way McCollum complements Ingram.
With McCollum on the floor, there’s another scoring threat you have to pay attention to, and a legitimate one at that. Hart is a better defender, but does not possess the scoring power that McCollum has.
As a pair, McCollum and Ingram have been formidable and could help pull off one of the biggest upsets ever with two more wins. And it all wouldn’t be possible without an assist from Portland.