Erick’s Hardwood Hypothesis week 14

Are the Pelicans legit?



The Larry O’Brien Trophy

ERICK AGUILAR, Evergreen reporter

Ladies and gentlemen, from all of us students here at WSU, we hope your holidays were great, and now that we are all back here for the second semester we resume our writing. 

There has been SO much missed since the last article so I’d like to use this edition to recap any new developments in the NBA. 

Pelicans BOOM

At the beginning of the season, if you would have told me that the Pelicans would have jumped to third in the West with less than half of the season to go, I would have called you a liar. 

The Pelicans have the making of a good team, but I predicted them to need a few more pieces to become a formidable force. I was wrong. This team has leaped to dark horse status with playoffs over the horizon. 

This team will make the playoffs, I really do not see them making it past the first round. It is unknown if Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy III are strong enough to lead the team in a deep run, but I would love for them to prove me wrong. 

Nonetheless, the Pelicans have certainly established that they are closing the book on their rebuilding era. 

Lakers struggles continue 

Well, one of the best players to ever touch a basketball is currently 20-24 with his team. To make matters worse, LeBron James’ right-hand man Anthony Davis can’t seem to stay healthy. Davis started to really find his momentum in December 2022 but was not given enough time on the bench to rest and thus got hurt. 

Rob Pelinka should not have a job after this season. The general manager has signed a team that is too old with names that carried more weight a few years ago. Focus less on signing big names and get LeBron a young but dependable bench roster. LeBron can lead the team, but he needs young and dynamic teammates. 

So much around the league has changed since the last Hardwood Hypothesis, so let’s take a look at the overall standings of both conferences if the playoffs started today. 

Eastern Conference

Upon taking a step back. The Eastern Conference, thus far, has progressed as many would have planned. The top eight teams are the Celtics, Nets, Bucks, 76ers, Cavaliers, Knicks, Heat and Pacers. 

The Nets are not the dumpster fire that I would have guessed because of one man, Kevin Durant. 

And as I predicted in the first Hardwood Hypothesis, the Cavaliers supporting cast are thriving behind the scoring leadership of Donovan Mitchell. This Cavaliers team is extremely fun to watch and I cannot wait for them to get the recognition they deserve in the playoffs. 

Yes, I do believe this team will make a deep playoffs run. 

The Knicks and Pacers are playing respectable ball, but I doubt their seasons will leave us interested in the future. 

The Heat continues to struggle to find a team identity even after making the 2020 finals. 

Western Conference 

Now the West, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Kings, Mavericks, Clippers, Warriors and Jazz.

We seem to have different headlines in this group, stay—with—me, here we go. 

The Nuggets and Grizzlies lead the pack for a reason—stellar teams. 

We already touched on the Pelicans, certainly better than expected. And we can say the same for the Kings. 

Let us be honest, Luka is single-handedly carrying the Mavericks. 

I could see the Clippers and Warriors going on a crazy winning streak and establishing themselves into the top three playoff teams. 

At the same time, this is the Clippers, they might just be cursed at this point. 

And the Jazz are exactly where we pegged them to be without Mitchell. 

Player of the week 

I missed this, I always find the “player of the week” segment the most fun to write. And just as before the break, I will continue the trend of looking for players who typically do not get the most publicity. 

Alright alright, no more corny talk. This week’s player of the week is …

Walker Kessler. 

The 21-year-old rookie from Auburn dropped 20-21-4 on a super tight win against an “in the hunt” T-wolves squad. When I say tight, I mean a win by 1 point. 

The seven foot 7-foot Kessler was drafted 22nd in the first round by the Jazz. Kessler has definitely been playing better basketball these last couple of weeks dropping 15,13, six and 10. And he tends to average just shy of 30 minutes on the floor. 

I hope to see Kessler’s role increase in the years to come. 

I am thrilled to be back working for Evergreen and excited to crank out more content!