Victor Wembanyama being sent to New Orleans is a nightmare that the Lakers can put to rest after beating the Pelicans

Victor Wembanyama

The Pelicans and Lakers may switch first-round draft selections.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2-10 record on November 11 was the lowest in the NBA. On December 7, less than a month later, the New Orleans Pelicans surpassed the Golden State Warriors as the best team in the Western Conference. Although though both teams would have some ups and downs in the rankings early on, the general consensus throughout the first two months of the season was that the Lakers would finish as one of the worst teams in the NBA and the Pelicans would finish as one of the best.

Due to the Anthony Davis deal, the Pelicans now have the option to exchange first-round choices with the Lakers in the 2023 NBA Draft. In that selection, for example, you may find Victor Wembanyama, who is undoubtedly the most exciting new NBA talent since LeBron James. The Davis trade became a no-lose situation for the Lakers if they won the NBA title in 2020, but if the Pelicans had been handed Wembanyama on a silver platter instead, it would be hard to argue that New Orleans hadn’t at least come out of the deal as a co-winner. An embarrassment of that magnitude, coming after the turbulence the Lakers’ management has through over the last few years, might have been catastrophic.

For this reason, Tuesday’s victory by the Lakers over the Pelicans had some symbolic significance

The Lakers moved ahead of the Pelicans in the standings for the first time this season a little more than a week ago. Despite having been tied with Los Angeles before Tuesday’s game, New Orleans’ loss put the Lakers ahead of the Pelicans by one game (34-35 to 33-36).

Since the trade deadline, James has only played in three games for the Lakers, but that hasn’t stopped them from going 9-4 without him. Nevertheless, the Pelicans’ 10-24 record since December 31st is heading in the wrong direction. It is uncertain whether Zion Williamson will come back for the rest of the season. Ingram, Brandon is hurting his ankle. For the past two months, their offense as a whole ranks 27th in the NBA, which is worse than the tanking Rockets. When it comes to remaining games, the Lakers have the easiest schedule in the NBA. The next four games for the Pelicans (against the Rockets twice, the Spurs, and the Pelicans) are the easiest remaining games on their schedule.

It’s impossible to predict the future in today’s NBA

The lottery’s lowered stakes have made this a reality. The nightmare scenario where Los Angeles sends Wembanyama to New Orleans is starting to go away as the Lakers continue to succeed in James’ absence and the Pelicans continue to struggle without Williamson’s return. The Lakers are now the ninth seed in the Western Conference, meaning that they need two play-in victories to avoid the lottery. No play-in team can have more than 2% probability of actually winning the lottery, even if they remain at that position.

At this time, keeping the Lakers and Pelicans in their current positions seems to be the most likely conclusion. Los Angeles would gain a relatively valuable mid-first-round pick regardless of whether the Pelicans exercise their trade, meaning that New Orleans would lose out on a potentially high pick.

In the big picture, New Orleans still has reason to be pleased with the return it obtained for Davis. As a member of the Pelicans, Ingram has developed into an All-Star. They acquired C.J. McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Josh Hart. The Lakers traded the No. 8 overall pick in last year’s draft to the Pelicans, who used it to choose Dyson Daniels. In addition, the Pelicans will get a second draft choice from the Lakers in either 2024 or 2025. (the Pelicans have the right to choose which year).

The Lakers may, at least partially, relax now. Even if they have a ways to go before they are competitive again, they can rest easy knowing that sending the finest prospect in a generation to New Orleans is practically a certainty at this point. Explore here at to learn the latest NBA news and updates for your favorite teams and players.

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