The Deal: Grizzlies get Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, and picks including 10th overall this year, 40th in 2021 and (via Lakers) 2022 1st rounder
Pelicans get Jonas Valanciunas, 17th pick, 51st pick
The Grizzlies are losing a strong defensive center in Valanciunas, but Steven Adams can make up for defense as his career average defensive rating is 106 which would’ve made him top ten in that category this year something Valanciunas wasn’t. Adams defensive rating was 112 this past season but that entire Pelicans defense was a mess. Last year the Grizzlies were 7th in points per 100 possessions defensively at 111.6. A team that can already play defense and inserts Adams will probably see him closer to his career average defensive rating. Eric Bledsoe doesn’t add a lot, but he is another scorer for their team who should come off the bench as last season he averaged 12.2 points per game on 42.1% shooting in 29.7 minutes of play. Getting the 10th overall pick in this deal is what makes it a nice trade win for Memphis as they can still get a valuable young prospect to develop.
Jonas Valanciunas gives the Pelicans who can not only defend but provide better scoring and rebounding results than Adams. A year ago, Valanciunas averaged 17.1 points per game on 59.2% shooting and grabbed 12.5 rebounds per game. Valanciunas ranked 16th in defensive rating at 108.3 but will he be enough to fix a defense that was 23rd in points per 100 possessions defensively at 114.3 and 25th in opponent effective field goal% at 55.5%? The Pelicans will lose out on a young prospect to develop and could still use a wing to pair with Zion. Free agency is where they’ll have to do that now.
Both teams are better off but the Grizzlies get more that can help them now as they get a quality center who can defend in Steven Adams, a solid scoring guard, and a top 10 pick to develop on a roster that already has Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson and others. The Pelicans will get better but how much is debatable and going from the 10th pick to the 17th pick is a good drop in the order.
Trade grades: Grizzlies B+, Pelicans B-