The New Orleans Pelicans are finalizing a multi-year deal to bring over their draft and stash player Didi Louzada. Louzada was drafted 35th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2019 NBA Draft and his draft rights were subsequently traded to the Pelicans.
Louzada has been playing in the NBL (Australian National Basketball League) for the Sydney Kings for the past season and a half on a Next-Stars contract. Louzada in his short tenure has been an integral piece to the Kings’ recent success.
In the 19-20 NBL season the Kings finished with the league’s best record and made the NBL Grand Final, where they lost in three games to the Perth Wildcats (the series was supposed to be five games but Covid-19 prematurely ended the series).
What does Didi Louzada bring to the New Orleans Pelicans?
Louzada was a key rotation piece in the Kings title run alongside former Golden State Warriors champion Andrew Bogut, current Houston Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate and former head coach of the Kings Will Weaver, who now is an assistant coach with the Rockets.
Louzada split time between both shooting guard and small forward and in the NBL, in the NBA he’s more likely a two as he stands at 6’4” with a strong frame (ESPN’s Olgun Uluc says he’s put on nearly 40 pounds muscle during his time in Sydney).
In Louzada’s shortened NBL 20-21 season he has been productive despite his inefficiencies.
In 20 games with the Kings this season he averaged 24.1 minutes per game (in a 40-minute game) 8.8 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game and 1.9 assists while shooting 39% from the field and 26% from three.
Louzada is a multi-positional (one-through-three in the NBA) defender and a capable playmaker, the 1.9 assists per game are slightly misleading as the Kings’ offense emphasizes ball movement.
Louzada comes into the NBA as a two-way wing and is considered one of the better perimeter defenders in the league, always tasked with the toughest wing assignment.
ESPN’s Steve Smith told HoopsHabit what he projects Louzada’s defense to be in the NBA:
“He’s (Louzada) pretty solid. It’s obviously a big step up to the NBA but I think he’s got the frame and desire to be a quite competent NBA defender”
Louzada may have only average barely nine points per game in the NBL but he is an NBA-ready offensive player. Louzada is a strong and determined driver to the basket, unafraid of any contact (averaged 1.4 free throw attempts per game). Louzada is a very streaky shooter from three – just in his past three games, Louzada has shot 0-of-4, 6-of-7, 0-of-5.
Louzada’s role with the Pelicans
Didi Louzada comes to the Pelicans with a lot of key skills that Stan Van Gundy will love, shooting, defense and playmaking. Louzada will more than likely be a bench player working as a defensive specialist and floor spacing forward for Kira Lewis Jr and Nickeil Alexender-Walker.
Louzada is only 21-years-old and has a lot of upside as a two-way threat in the NBA. The fit alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram is almost seamless, having another defender, shooter and playmaker on the same timeline as the Pelicans two young stars should help the Pelicans going forward.