What if the New Orleans Pelicans Won the NBA Draft Lottery?

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Published: April 18, 2014
Can Monty afford another season without a playoff birth?

The New Orleans Pelicans hold a 1.1% chance of winning the top pick in the 2014 draft. Talk about long odds. It seems like you’re more likely to get hit by an asteroid than the Pelicans have of winning the lotto. But, that’s not the case. One in one hundred is still a chance…

so you're telling me there's a chance

The situation is this: The Pelicans traded the rights to their 2014 draft pick if it was outside the top-5. Currently they’re sitting in the 10th spot.

pelicans lottery odds 2014

So, in totality they stand an 87% chance to land the 10th selection, with a 4% chance to land in the top-3. It’s unlikely, but we’ve seen stranger things.

Remember when the Bulls had a 1.7% chance to land the top pick in 2008? Or maybe when the Magic had a 1.52% chance of winning the top selection in 1993?

Stranger things have happened.

So, what if? What if in the unlikely event the Pelicans win the lottery? What about if they land in the top-3? Well, let’s break it down.

Andrew Wiggins

Giving the New Orleans Pelicans Andrew Wiggins would be a professional sport maneuver equivalent of day-light robbery. The only difference would be if this robbery was a complete and utter fluke.

Wiggins would fit well on the Pelicans. He’s an excellent athlete with defensive prowess. He can shoot the three and can attack the basket. Pairing him with a slasher like Tyreke Evans with Jrue Holiday spotting up on the wing would be a nightmare for the opposition.

For Monty Williams it would a dream to finally have a wing defender who isn’t a liability on offense. The Pelicans could be so multiple in the way they lineup that there’s little chance of Monty screwing it up.

Jabari Parker

You want a scorers delight? Well if the Pelicans drafted Parker there’s not many other teams that could claim to be the most lethal offensive team. Parker has been labelled the most NBA ready draft prospect (whatever the hell that means).

Evans, Holiday, Gordon, Davis, Anderson and Parker could all score points. This isn’t accounting for Anthony Morrow returning.

The over/under for the Pelicans points per game for 2015 would be set at 213 billion points.

The likely issue would be whether Parker can improve defensively. It’s not his biggest strength so it’d be interesting to see if this would improve playing alongside Anthony Davis.

Joel Embiid

Outside of Wiggins the most preferable player the Pelicans would like to draft is Joel Embiid. Monty Williams’ 90′s love-affair for centers would be satisfied if Embiid was paired with Anthony Davis.

Embiid is 250 pounds. Yes, he has size something that would help in Davis’ development as well. The greatest thing about Embiid playing in New Orleans would be that there would be a shot blocker always around the basket.

An issue that seemed to develop throughout the 2013-14 season was that teams took Davis out towards the perimeter on defense. This meant that the Pels had guys like Greg Stiemsma “defending” the paint. With Joel and Davis this would be of little concern.

His offensive game is still developing but still shows promise. He displays a nice touch around the basket and has decent smarts when positioning himself.

Teams still want to hear on how bad his back is, but how many other skilled, shot-blocking centers are there in the 2014 NBA draft? Not many.

 —

New Orleans has a lot of work to do over the off-season. There’s a myriad of decisions to make and players to scout. They need a small forward who can space the floor better but can be an asset on defense. These kinds of players are not easy to find. Additionally they need to find a center who won’t foul, but also is not a liability on offense.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers or the tank-line of other teams will be very fortunate to have one of these gifted players. After the top-5 in the draft there’s a significant decline in talent to where picking 10th overall won’t be that beneficial.

When Dell made the trade for Jrue Holiday he bet on his team being good enough to have a selection somewhere in the late lottery come 2014. He was correct, but hedged things so that if they did end up with a top-5 selection they wouldn’t miss out on elite talent. It’s a trade that gets criticized far too much around NBA circles for the love of the draft pick.

Pundits are more willing to give the benefit to an unknown commodity than one that is a proven player in the league. The common tone is one that labels the veteran as “stale” and the rookie as “fresh.” This seems kind of odd.

Come late June it’s likely that the Pelicans will be without any draft picks and will simply be left to scour the free-agent market. While many other things are more likely to happen to this team over the next two years it’s always nice to enjoy the speculation of a statistical improbability.

9 comments
LaNative
LaNative

I always want the Pelicans to succeed and I'm hoping that we can (1) win in the lottery and (2) trade off Eric Gordon's contract (nothing personal just redundant skills set plus too dang expensive).  I know that we can defy the odds and get these two small wishes.  Oh, I also wish that we can get Greg Monroe.  I'm not completely sold on Lance Stephenson (he's talented but he's a hot head and I don't think he works in the Pelicans culture).  We can all dream and keep hope alive, right?  I would hate to see Jason Smith go and I've accepted that Aminu has reached his ceiling as a Pelican.  Come on lottery balls - come to the Pelicans!!

xman20002000
xman20002000

The real question is whether we retain Jason Smith...  Once upon a time we were flush at the 4..  but is the Smith/Withey/Ajinca rotation what we move on with...  And good luck to wherever the Steamer lands.. so we need to make the first, second, or third choice..  no big deal... We can purchase a pick later in the round... Aminu will grow someplace... do we try to retain him and Morrow is a keeper...

Steven J
Steven J

I think we'd take Embiid or Jabari if we lucked up with a pick. I see Wiggins as more of a SG than SF and we already have enough guards. Jabari and Embiid are clearly the positions we are in a need of. 

mojart
mojart

Just give me any of the top three picks and the pels are set.....

dbeard06
dbeard06

@JohnRPage You read my mind. What Dell did last year is proof we already have enough young pieces. Dell will almost certainly trade Gordon + Top 3 pick for a very important wing or big man with experience. This team is very talented, but it needs to fill those two holes to become a real playoff contender.

JohnRPage
JohnRPage

I think there is a 0% chance of us choosing any of these guys. I would expect a trade of Gordon + a Top 3 draft pick for an important piece. I don't know enough of needs of other teams, but something like Gordon + Top 3 for Greg Monroe or Lance Stephenson (just examples). You would be a better guesser as to what we could get. What do you think?

xman20002000
xman20002000

In the world of probability we have a chance to get one of five... We must be in the top 5...  And if we don't we have Holiday a young veteran now... So we bring back one of our many ball handlers... Then OKC got Durant and Westbrook plus Hardin out of the draft..  The draft is important but we already have a bunch of young players who are developing.. 

There are so many questions we didn't answer during the season....due to injuries but the upcoming season offers great promise.. almost  any rookie would be a complementary player.....  more concerned about free agency...

Sportnlyfe
Sportnlyfe

@xman20002000  I don't think it's one of five. If I remember correctly, a team can only move up by getting one of the top three. After that it goes by reverse order based on number of wins. 

I really like Wiggins, but I think I prefer Parker, a more talented Josh Smith who can play the small forward slot and hit corner 3s, in addition to creating havoc by driving to the basket. Any team that has to try to check AD and Tyreke, plus get out to the 3 point line for Anderson, Holiday, and Parker is going to have to pick its poison. That team would be lethal.