New Orleans Pelicans acquire Jeff Withey

Published: July 4, 2013

As should come to no surprise to any of us by now, a very fluid situation took some twists and turns today. At first, it was reported that the swap between the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings would be a simple one. The Kings would get Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez, while the Pelicans received Tyreke Evans. But we’ve been down this road before; we knew it wouldn’t be that easy.

First, the Kings were waiting on an answer from free agent point guard Jose Calderon. If he decided to sign with the Kings, they would no longer have interest in Vasquez, and the deal would be on hold once again. But Calderon said no, and the trade was back on. But apparently, the Kings did not have much interest in Lopez. So, the Blazers were brought in to give some pieces back to the Kings and the Pelicans for the rights to Lopez, and they did just that by surrendering a 2nd round pick to Sacramento and Jeff Withey to the Pelicans.

Withey was the 39th pick of the 2013 NBA draft, but he was a guy that was projected to go top-25 in nearly every mock draft. Personally, I had him ranked 17th on my Big Board. Like Lopez, he is a true 7-footer and because of his college experience, defensive IQ, and ability to finish at the rim, he is one of the few guys from the draft that is ready to play right now. While nobody expects Withey to play the minutes that Robin Lopez got last season, the conventional wisdom centers around the idea that Anthony Davis and Jason Smith will get more minutes at Center, meaning the Pelicans just need a guy who can give them 12-15. Jeff Withey can do that.

Withey is primarily known for his defensive ability, both on the low post and at the rim. Remember how Anthony Davis won Final Four MOP despite shooting just 1-10 in the championship game? You wanna know why he shot 1-10? Because Jeff Withey was covering him all night. And it wasn’t a fluke. The game before that, Withey held First Team All-American Jared Sullinger to 13 points on 5 of 19 shooting. His length, quickness, and intelligence gave both men fits.

That same season, Anthony Davis was taking the NCAA by storm, as he seemingly blocked everything. He averaged an astonishing 5.8 blocks per 40 minutes, which was tops in the NCAA. You know who was second? That’s right, Jeff Withey at 5.7. He is a beast on the defensive end, as evidenced by the fact that Kansas was #1 in the nation, allowing teams to shoot just 39% from two point range. Prior to Withey’s arrival, opponents shot 44.5%. Quite a difference.

Withey does all this, and like Davis, he doesn’t commit fouls and that might be the most impressive thing. He registered just 2.6 fouls per 36 minutes; essentially 50% of how many blocks he registers in that same time. A 1:1 block to foul ratio is impressive. 2:1 is insane. He still has to work on his defense in space and his ability to hedge and recover in the pick and roll, but he at least has one elite skill, and that is well worth the 3-3.5 million dollars the Pelicans will pay him  (total) over the next four seasons.

On the offensive end, he is extremely limited, but he did lead the NCAA in FG% at the rim in non-post up possessions, shooting 79.2% on 3.4 attempts. Don’t expect much of a post game or an 18-footer, but Withey will create lanes for guards to pass the ball through and finish once he gets those passes. Don’t expect a big showing on the offensive glass either, or playmaking from the low post. Basically, Withey runs the baseline on offense, finishes everything, and makes shots at the rim very difficult on defense. Not a ton of upside here, but when you consider what the Pelicans needed and Withey’s price tag, you can argue that he is exactly what they were looking for.

Draft Express Video

2012-13 Highlights

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