If you’re looking for some consensus on where the Pelicans might turn in the June 23 NBA Draft, media analysts won’t be much help.
Mock drafts from nine media outlets released after last week’s NBA draft lottery have five players — Providence point guard Kris Dunn, Marquette power forward Henry Ellenson, Oklahoma shooting guard Buddy Hield, Kentucky shooting guard Jamal Murray and Utah center Jakob Poeltl – projected to land in New Orleans with the sixth pick.
Poeltl and Hield went to the Pelicans in three mock drafts each.
A look at those five potential Pelicans and why some Draft analysts have them heading to New Orleans (note that measurements are from this month’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago), and heights are for measurements in shoes):
Point guard, Providence
6-4¼, 205 pounds
(Listed weight; not weighed in Chicago)
New Orleans met with Dunn at this month’s NBA Combine, and he sounded open to the idea of landing in New Orleans, and particularly the prospect of playing with Anthony Davis.
“To be able to play with a guy like that, it’s only going to help me,” Dunn said. “He makes the game a lot easier for point guards.”
Will Dunn be available at six? He’s widely considered the best point guard prospect in the Draft, and CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie wrote that “there’s a chance that a team tries to move ahead of the Pelicans to acquire Dunn,” given the weakness of the position.
Still, Vecenie projects Dunn to the Pelicans, saying he would “reinvent their backcourt” and provide “a pick and roll partner for Anthony Davis and a reliable two-way guard who can make plays” despite a propensity for turnovers.
Power forward, Marquette
6-11½, 242 pounds
The 19-year-old Ellenson might be the most logical replacement in the lottery for Ryan Anderson if the veteran leaves the Pelicans in free agency.
Ellenson shot 28.8 percent from 3-point range in his only season at Marquette, but he has the potential to be a prototypical NBA “stretch four,” a power forward who, like Anderson, spreads a defense with his perimeter shooting.
While noting that Ellenson’s defense is a concern, USA Today’s Derek Bodner projected him to the Pelicans, writing that he’d provide “an interesting combination of size, defense, and potential as a floor spacing big, something that New Orleans could value next to Anthony Davis.”
Shooting guard, Oklahoma
6-5, 212.4 pounds
At 22 years old, Hield could be more prepared than some Draft prospects to play right away. He’s a deadeye shooter who shot 45.7 percent (147 of 322) from 3-point range in his senior season with the Sooners. And he could serve as a replacement if Eric Gordon leaves in free agency.
No wonder, then, that ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote this week that “landing Hield would be a dream scenario for the Pelicans.”
“There are other players New Orleans could gamble on here,” Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp wrote, “but with Anthony Davis about to hit his prime and create an endless stream of open looks, it might make the most sense to grab the Bahamian J.J. Redick while they have the chance.”
Shooting guard, Kentucky
6-4¼, 207 pounds
(Measurements from Kentucky combine; not measured in Chicago)
John Calipari compares the Canadian sharpshooter to Stephen Curry, and while that’s typical hyperbole from the Kentucky coach, Murray is one of the most dynamic scorers in this Draft. He also can play some point guard, though he rarely showed it playing on a Wildcats roster stocked with them.
Most analysts expect Murray to be off the board by the time New Orleans makes its pick – he’s slotted at third and fifth in multiple mock drafts – but Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony projects him as a Pelican.
Murray’s “skill level and aggressiveness is what separates him from your average guard,” Givony wrote in a scouting report, noting that Murray was “magnificent as a spot-up shooter for Kentucky, but was particularly impressive coming off screens.”
7-1, 239 pounds
If the Pelicans opt to go big – and if Croatian forward Dragan Bender is off the board at six as expected – Poeltl could be the best bet. New Orleans met with him at the Combine, and Poeltl expressed confidence that he could play alongside Davis.
“I think that could work pretty well,” Poeltl said. “He’s obviously a guy who would draw a lot of the attention towards him and give his teammates a little more freedom. There’s more space for the rest of the team, so I feel like that could work out really well.”
In projecting Poeltl to New Orleans, Sporting News’ Sean Deveney said the Utah center is “more versatile and more mobile than expected for a guy who is 7-1 and nearly 250 pounds.”
Kevin O’Connor of SB Nation wrote that Poeltl “might lack the upside of some other lottery prospects, but it’s safe to say he’ll have a long career in the NBA as a role player.”
NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper also projects the Pelicans to take Poeltl, writing that New Orleans “has to go center somewhere this offseason, whether the draft, trade or free agency” despite having both Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca under contract.