If you’re a Pelicans fans, there’s really no need for you to watch Thursday night’s NBA draft.
But if you decide to tune in, drink plenty of coffee or Red Bull.
You’ll need it to stay awake long enough to see who the Pelicans select.
The Pelicans don’t pick until late in the second round, 56th overall in the 60-pick draft.
The player drafted by the Pelicans won’t walk on the stage and shake the commissioner’s hand and be presented a Pelicans jersey like the high-profile guys selected much earlier in the night.
Chances are, he won’t ever wear a Pelicans jersey anyway.
If you’re a New Orleans fan, this NBA draft won’t provide the buzz it did 10 years ago.
That’s when the then-Hornets selected Chris Paul with the fourth overall pick.
Paul, head and shoulders above everyone in that draft class, became the face of the franchise before being shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers where he continues to be one of the top players in the league.
Of course you do. That’s when the Pelicans used the first overall pick to select a 19-year old kid out of Kentucky, who is now the face of the franchise and soon to be the face of the league.
For New Orleans fans, the draft hasn’t quite been the same since that selection of Anthony Davis. (They also drafted Austin Rivers in the first round of that draft, but he was traded in January.)
Davis is the only player on the roster who was actually drafted by the Pelicans.
Everyone else was acquired through a trade or through free agency .
The team hasn’t had a first-round pick since drafting Davis and Rivers, trading the first-round pick away each of the past three seasons.
In 2013, the team traded its first-round pick for that year and 2014 to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday.
Last summer, they traded this year’s first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for Omer Asik.
And that’s just the way general manager Dell Demps has wanted it as he tries to build a franchise around Davis.
“We look at it differently,” Demps said. “When we drafted AD, everything changed. When we got AD, we knew we could build with him. Since AD’s there, we wanted to add players go with him. AD is such a good player that as we got better (and the team thus moved lower in the draft), we might not be able to add the right kind of players for the team.”
Demps’ method has been to build with proven, experienced players instead of drafting college or international players and waiting to see if they pan out.
It’s a strategy that seems to be a good one. Outside of the top five or six guys in a draft class, you’re probably not going to get a player who is coming into the league making an instant impact.
You’d have to think long and hard to come up with a rookie that made an impact on a playoff team this season.
It just doesn’t happen a whole lot.
The really good drafted players are playing on teams that were drafting high for a reason (they were awful).
And with a star like Davis, you want to put pieces around him right away.
If the Pelicans hadn’t traded for Asik last season, they’d have the No. 18 pick. There have been some nice grabs at that spot over the years (J.R. Smith, Gerald Green, Joe Dumars and Mark Jackson were all No. 18 picks), but rookies are unproven. So Demps prefers the “young veterans.”
“Now we have those guys right in their prime,” Demps said. “This is a good time for us because this is our team and we like them.”
The jury is still out on whether the strategy is working.
Holiday and Eric Gordon have been plagued by injuries the past two seasons, but the team still made the playoffs as a No. 8 seed.
First-year coach Alvin Gentry said he likes the current team.
“I want the whole roster back,” Gentry said. “I like the roster we have. This team never really had that roster to play any length of time together. I think it would have been interesting to see all of these guys healthy and playing together.”
Any chance of adding to the roster via the draft doesn’t seem likely. The team will likely choose an international player Thursday and let him continue playing overseas.
And Demps has hinted that he doesn’t plan to make any trades to move up in the draft. The team didn’t bring any players in to evaluate.
Any additions (or subtractions) from the roster, will likely come through free agency, which begins July 1.
First things first though: the NBA draft.
Yeah, you’ll have to wait a while Thursday night for that though.
And we’ll have to wait to see if Demps’ method for building a championship team is working, as well.
If it works, there could be more draft nights like tonight where you’re waiting for pick that likely won’t matter.
If it doesn’t work, the team will be in the lottery, and you won’t have to wait long at all.