Sixth Pick Tournament Round Two: Trade Down vs. Victor Oladipo

Published: June 13, 2013

Why the New Orleans Pelicans need to Trade Down (Jake Madison)

Two words: Asset Collection.

With the less than stellar free agent class (in terms of players the Pelicans have a realistic shot at), if the team wants to bring in anyone of tremendous quality then it’ll have to be through a trade. The problem is the Pelicans have virtually no trade assets–right now. Robin Lopez has potential to be moved but you’re in denial if you think he’d bring the Pelicans a key player back in return. There is also Jason Smith but he’s not exactly a hot commodity throughout the league. Basically, if the Pelicans want to bring in a quality player, they’re going to have to trade Ryan Anderson which is not something I’d be okay with–and I hope you wouldn’t either.

Take a look at the trades Mason proposed.

1) New Orleans receives the 9th and 26th picks, Minnesota receives the 6th pick

Rationale: By making this deal with the Timberwolves, the Pelicans would gain a late-first round pick in exchange for moving down from 6th to 9th. If there is no player that the New Orleans is in love with, this trade is one that makes a lot of sense, as the drop-off in talent from 6 to 9 should not be terribly large.

2) New Orleans receives the 12th, 29th, & 32nd picks, Oklahoma City receives the 6th pick

Rationale: Very similar to the proposed Timberwolves trade, except that they fall three additional spots with the top two picks and gain an additional pick at the top of the second round (which is potentially more valuable than the 29th pick due to different contract rules for second round picks).

3) New Orleans receives Alec Burks, the 14th pick, & the 21st pick, Utah receives Greivis Vasquez & the 6th pick

Rationale: People may look at this deal and immediately revolt, but it should be one that the Pelicans strongly consider. New Orleans knows that Greivis isn’t the long-term answer at starting point guard and that he will probably get offered more money as a restricted free agent in 2014 than they feel he’s worth. With that in mind, this summer could very well be the ideal time to move him. The Pelicans receive two mid-first round picks in addition to a talented 21 year old 6’6” guard who was the 12th pick in the 2011 NBA draft in exchange for Vasquez and the 6th pick.

4) New Orleans receives the 17th, 18th, 47th, & 50th picks, Atlanta receives the 6th pick

Rationale: Monty’s head might explode if the team added four more rookies to the roster, but if this deal went down, at least one of the picks would be used on a player who would stay overseas for a year or two, and the two seconds round picks could be included in other kinds of transactions.


Don’t think the moves simply end with the trades. Having multiple first round picks allows Dell Demps to have more trade options. As I’ve written about before, Demps is always thinking a move or two ahead.  Expect those picks to be packaged for another player.

In last season’s James Harden trade, Houston shipped three pick (two first rounders) along with a rookie (Jeremy Lamb) and Kevin Martin. I’m not saying the Pelicans have shot at a trade like that, but they can’t make a move without some of the assets needed.

The Pelicans have too much youth on the team as is. They have the league’s second youngest team. By trading down Dell can create a strong package of players and picks to bring in a talented young veteran that Monty craves.

Now let’s talk about Victor Oladipo.

Honestly, I like him as a prospect, but I’m not even remotely sold on him.

He saw great improvement this year, and while that’s great I wonder if it is sustainable. His 3-point shooting skyrocketed 23.3% but the sample size of 68 attempts is pretty small. I’m not sure he can keep up that type of percentage throughout an NBA season. It’s also worth pointing out that his 3-point shooting got worse from his freshman to sophomore year. I want prospects continually trending upwards, not going both up and down.

I also worry about him scoring in the NBA. Yes his defense is great, but the Pelicans need a scorer–particularly someone who can create his own offense. Oladipo’s 13.6 points per game isn’t exactly sexy. If you watch film of his, Oladipo always goes to his right. That might work in college but NBA defenses will take that away. Once that happens I worry about how he’ll play.

Lastly, I want to take you back to the 2010 draft. The Hornets were picking at 11 and positioned to take Cole Aldrich. Instead, the team traded the pick to the Thunder who had two first round picks. The team eventually turned those two picks into Jason Smith and Greivis Vasquez, and a bunch of cap room. However, at the time it was disappointing to trade the pick. But looking back on it, it’s hard to see that trade as anything but positive for the team. For his career, Aldrich has averaged 7.9 minutes per game and a whopping 2 points per game.

It’s easy to get excited about picking in the lottery, but remember that it doesn’t always work out. Trading down is a much better option as you have greater control of what the ultimate outcome will be.

The Case for Victor Oladipo (Reed)

A more in depth summary of Oladipo’s strengths and potential can be found here (

The general conclusion you should arrive at, if you agree with my evaluation of Oladipo, is that he possesses star potential. Too often pigeon-holed as a defensive specialist, Oladipo offers an intriguing combination of length, athleticism, high efficiency scoring, and a budding on-the-ball game, which sets his ceiling in the Dwayne Wade range. Defense, long considered a foundation of Monty-coached teams, is actually one of the Pelicans’ biggest weakness, particularly perimeter defense. Guard penetration was all too frequent, leading to countless defensive breakdowns over the course of the season, which in turns slows the offense, which in turn puts more pressure on the defense, etc. A player who can help to alleviate both of those problems, both as an impact defender and an efficient scorer with the potential to get to the rim, is a rare commodity in the game.

My argument for Oladipo and against trading down is predicated on this belief: that in the NBA, it’s better to have one impact/star player than it is to have two good role players. And that is the best case scenario. Maybe you trade down and with those two lesser picks, you get two solid role players. But what if you land Hilton Armstrong and Cedric Simmons? Every fan base has high hopes for their 1st round picks when they draft them. The sky is the limit before they ever play a game. Remember the excitement the night Julian Wright fell to us. Fans from way back – remember talking yourself into Kirk Haston or George Zidek being good picks? We are doing the same thing now with the Sergey Karasev’s and Gorgui Dieng’s of the world. We are imagining them in their the best light, but the truth is that there are far more Fab Melo’s and Christian Eyenga’s in the 20’s and 30’s than there are Taj Gibson’s or Josh Howard’s.

And besides, hasn’t Dell Demps shown us he can get solid role players any time he wants? Jason Smith, Willie Green, Marco Belinelli, Gustavo Ayon, Brian Roberts – all picked up for little to nothing. Dell can find those guys in his sleep. Why would you give up the opportunity to draft a potential star just to get two solid players that you can otherwise get at the end of free agency, in the NBDL, in a Euroleague, or in an under the radar trade?

The answer – you wouldn’t. And YOU won’t. Because you will vote Oladipo.
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For all Sixth Pick Tournament Matchups and the Bracket, click here.


  1. Pingback: Sixth Pick Tournament Semi-Finals: Victor Oladipo vs. Otto Porter, Jr. (Part I) | New Orleans Pelicans |

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