By now you know Buddy Hield and Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray and Dragan Bender.
You’ve heard the names of the prospects the Pelicans could pick sixth in this month’s NBA draft.
But what do you know about Malcolm Brogdon and Jared Uthoff? Ever heard of Isaia Cordinier or Guerschon Yabusele?
When the Pelicans finish picking sixth, their draft night will have just started. With picks 39 and 40, New Orleans has more significant decisions to make in the second round as well as the first.
“This draft has a lot of projects, and it has a lot of low-upside role players,” said Sam Vecenie, who covers college basketball and the NBA draft for CBS Sports. “It’s a really difficult draft to slot as far as, how do you rate a project versus a finished product?”
The Pelicans will be searching for the latter in the first round. In the second, they might need to seek the former.
The talent in this year’s draft drops off “around 11 or 12,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. The players are “basically interchangeable from 12 to 20 and from 25 to 50 or something,” Vecenie said.
That means there’s the potential for New Orleans to find some dark-horse talent with its two second-round picks, assuming it keeps them both.
The Pelicans have seven players — Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Quincy Pondexter — under fully guaranteed contracts for next season. Alonzo Gee can opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent or return to a guaranteed slot. Luke Babbitt and Toney Douglas are on deals that become guaranteed July 12.
New Orleans also has decisions to make about free agents Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Kendrick Perkins, Tim Frazier and James Ennis.
The player the Pelicans select sixth pick in the draft — assuming they don’t trade him — will have a guaranteed contract. The second-round picks aren’t guaranteed contracts or roster spots, and given the Pelicans’ preference for players in their mid-20s, “I can’t imagine they’ll want three rookies on that roster next year,” Vecenie said.
That could lead New Orleans to shop for a foreign player it can stash in international ball for a season or more. And this draft could be ideal for finding a foreign-born player who needs extra time to develop.
“Really, none of the international guys are impact guys this year,” said Fraschilla, who specializes in scouting international players. “None of them.”
But there are some players who could fall into the Pelicans’ second-round range who might prove to be NBA-caliber talents down the road.
Cordinier, a 6-foot-5 guard from France, is a good athlete and solid 3-point shooter at 19 years old. He’s expected to work out with New Orleans next week. Rade Zagorac, a 6-9, 205-pound Serbian small forward, also could be a perimeter option in the second round.
If the Pelicans go big, they could look at Yabusele, a 20-year-old French power forward with a bruising build at 6-8 and 270 pounds, or Zhou Qi, a 7-2 center from China who’s a borderline first-round pick who could slip into the second.
But with two picks in the same range, New Orleans likely won’t evaluate strictly international talents.
The Pelicans are expected to have a number of second-round prospects in town next week, including Indiana’s Troy Williams, a dynamic athlete who likely needs skill development before he’s ready to contribute in the NBA.
There are potential second-round picks, Vecenie said, closer to contributing. Former Virginia star Brogdon, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, and Uthoff, a 6-10 combo forward from Iowa, are among those Vecenie said could fit the second-round profile.
“You could see Malcolm Brogdon or a Jared Uthoff becoming a solid role player in the right situation for a decade,” Vecenie said. “But they’re not going to be much more than, at best, a fifth option in the NBA because they have some sort of limitation.”