Pelicans trade Noel for Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com

The excitement was short-lived for New Orleans fans last Thursday night.

Things had worked out just as the Pelican faithful had hoped. Kentucky center Narlens Noel--who at one time, was projected as the No. 1 player in the draft--slipped all the way to the No. 6 spot, and New Orleans pounced on him.

They drafted the athletic, shot-blocking phenom and as a result, the fans went into a frenzy. It looked like he was on his way to join his fellow Kentucky alum Anthony Davis in the Crescent City.

Before suffering an ACL tear mid-way through the season, the seven-footer was averaging 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks per game. When paired with Davis--who blocked two shots a contest this past season as a rookie--New Orleans looked to instantly become one of the better defensive teams in the Western Conference.

However, those grand visions quickly went away as the Pelicans decided to trade Noel and a 2014 first-round draft pick to the 76ers for point guard Jrue Holiday.

Holiday is a four-year player out of UCLA. This past season, he averaged 18 points and dished out eight assists per contest en route to making the All-Star team. But with center Andrew Bynum missing the year with a knee injury, Philadelphia was only able to finish 34-48.

The point guard position is actually a great need for New Orleans. They haven't had a true All-Star caliber man at the point since Chris Paul.

Eric Gordon originally came from Los Angeles in the Paul trade, but he was injured for the 2012 season and missed 42 games this past year.

With the injuries, he transition to shooting guard. That gave way to Greivis Vasquez--prototypically a two-guard--taking over at the point. He led the team with nine assists per game.

Now, with the addition of a pure point guard, New Orleans has a lot of options. One thing they may decide to experiment with is a three-guard look.

With Holiday running the point and Gordon playing shooting guard, they could use the 6-foot-6 Vasquez at small forward.

New Orleans is looking for any little spark after a disastrous 27-55 season that saw Gordon and first overall pick Davis spending much of the year on the bench due to injuries.

As the franchise officially dons the "Pelicans" nickname, they're hoping their stars can stay healthy and that Holiday can duplicate the stellar point guard play that made him an All-Star in Philadelphia.

He'll be facing an ample amount of pressure. Everything he does in the next few years will be constantly compared to the accomplishments of Noel. Only time will tell which team got the better of that shocking draft-day trade.