NBA Rumors: Pelicans Could Replace Derrick Favors With Rudy Gobert As Their Starting Center Next Season
After a dismal performance in the Orlando bubble, the New Orleans Pelicans have failed to earn the final playoff spot in the Western Conference for the 2019-20 NBA season. However, the Pelicans may also receive some benefits from missing the postseason as it could give them a chance of winning a lottery pick in the 2020 Draft. If they get the No. 1 overall pick, they could further solidify their core by selecting another talented prospect.
However, if they are seriously aiming to fully dominate the Western Conference and bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy next year, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report believes that the Pelicans are better off using the top selection to acquire All-Star center Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz. In the proposed trade scenario by Bleacher Report, the Pelicans would be sending a package that includes JJ Redick, Jaxson Hayes, Darius Miller, and their 2020 first-rounder to the Jazz in exchange for Gobert and Utah’s 2020 first-round selection.
“No single player swung the success of the Pelicans this season more than center Derrick Favors, who registered an on/off rating of plus-9.0. If New Orleans was that good with Favors, imagine plugging Gobert into the middle of the defense instead. With Favors set to become an unrestricted free agent, Gobert would give the Pelicans a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the middle of the paint, finishing lobs from Lonzo Ball and making sure 6’6? Zion Williamson doesn’t have to defend centers.”
Though he is yet to unlock his three-point shooting potential, Gobert is undoubtedly an upgrade over Derrick Favors at the center position. His arrival in New Orleans would help them improve their performance on both ends of the floor, giving them an All-Star-caliber big man who could contribute in terms of scoring, rebounding, and protecting the rim. This season, the 28-year-old French big man is averaging 15.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while shooting 69.3 percent from the field, per ESPN.
Gobert may not perfectly fit the timeline of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, but he has enough productive years left in his career to see them flourish into All-Star-caliber players in the league. Meanwhile, the potential deal would make a lot of sense for the Jazz if they think that Gobert and Donovan Mitchell aren’t destined to play together on the same team. In exchange for Gobert, the Jazz would be receiving a veteran sharpshooter in Redick and a young and promising big man in Hayes. Using the top selection, the Jazz could either select Mitchell’s new backcourt partner or draft a potential replacement for Gobert like James Wiseman.