Remembering the 2013 Draft and Nerlens Noel

Published: June 26, 2014

Last year around this time we weren’t really sure who was going to end up in a Pelicans uniform. We also weren’t sure what those uniforms were going to look like. After Cleveland drafted Bennet, the camera pans to Nerlens for a reaction shot and, as is turns out, there were 4 more times to get the same reaction shot. Nerlens Noel slipped all the way to #6, the pick owned by the New Orleans Pelicans. The puns dominated the internet.

First off, it’s a year later and I still haven’t decided if the way David Stern said “yes, New Orleans Pelicans” was his way of saying “yeah, this team name is weird, huh” or if it was his way of saying “Dear everyone who thought basketball wouldn’t return to New Orleans: You were wrong.” I’m leaning towards the latter. Regardless, David Stern still deserves a statue somewhere in Champions Square between Anthony Davis holding an MVP trophy and the Daniel Bryan Wrestlemania 30 banner. I’ll revisit this in 2015.

Consider this a distant cousin to the Glory Days series currently running on Bourbon Street Shots. New Orleans drafting Noel wasn’t necessarily glorious, but few believed that our measly mid-lottery pick in a weak draft would have a chance to impact the team in such a Jrue Holiday-size way. But it did. For those who still can’t believe that we got an opportunity to put a pair of Kentucky big men on the court and we passed on it, we did. Anyone who can’t believe that Nerlens Noel got someone to sew his Wildcats jersey into his suit jacket, well, he did. It’s probably still there.

As we gear up for a draft in which we have no picks, let us remember that Dell Demps once turned an injured shot blocker with literally no NBA experience and a recognizable haircut into a (one time so far, but still) All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday, and an All-Star social media D-Leaguer, Pierre Jackson (#THEYSLEEP), who carries trade value. Let us also remember that we got our shot blocker last night – Omer Asik, who blocked more shots in one game last season than Nerlens Noel did the entire season. Finally, let us all remember that there is no way in hell that anyone knows who “won” or “lost” this trade – but at this point New Orleans has a Spurs-in-the-2014-Finals lead. Sure, it cost us our 2014 lottery pick. And sure, Asik is costing us our 2015 first round pick. But I’ll trade the unknown for a chance at surrounding Anthony Davis with something special every day of the week – especially if we get to put that chance into effect immediately. Philadelphia and Houston can have their numbers on a board on draft day. I’m happy with actual players putting numbers on a board on game day.

One of the most fun things about the NBA Draft is the possibility of potential. Assuming we don’t sneak into the draft this year, Dell Demps has robbed us of following a professional unknown for three years in a row. I say that’s a good thing. I love the future too, but I love now even more. Dell Demps is giving us the now.

Enjoy the draft, Pelicans Nation. Enjoy the team that Dell Demps has built. Enjoy the very real chance that another surprising move goes down tonight. Most important, let’s enjoy the experience of being a Pelicans fan. It deserves to be said again – we almost lost the NBA for good in New Orleans and now we have a rebranded team that is trying to win.

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