Could Dell Demps Grab A Quality Rookie AFTER the Draft?

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Published: June 18, 2014

Many people are curious to see if Dell Demps can maneuver his way back into the 2014 draft, either by trading a piece like Pierre Jackson or buying a pick with Benson’s cash. But let me offer another alternative. Perhaps Dell sits back and waits until around pick #55 before he starts burning up the phone lines, calling agents of guys going undrafted. While this draft is no different than most at the top, it is deeper than most and with so many teams having multiple picks, we will likely see more draft and stash players selected than usual. The more foreign prospects picked, the more we see college juniors and seniors pushed down, and perhaps out of the draft.

The Pelicans are not eager to add any more 19 or 20 year olds to this already young team, but they wouldn’t mind adding another NBA ready young prospect, even if he doesn’t have tremendous upside. They are looking for role players, and role players often get passed up in the draft in favor of guys with raw talent and no production. And there are plenty of talented undrafted players who became role players in the league. Just look at the NBA playoffs this year and some of the contributors who went undrafted –  Chris Anderson, Udonis Haslem, Gary Neal, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Matthews, Jose Calderon, CJ Watson. And don’t forget our very own Anthony Morrow, Brian Roberts, and commentator David Wesley.

Looking at recent projections and mock drafts, here are some guys that could go undrafted that Dell could bring in to compete for a spot on next years roster.

Melvin Ejim, F, Iowa State

Ejim played in a fantastic system at Iowa State under Fred Hoiberg and thrived on both ends of the court. This past year, Ejim put up nearly 18 points per game on less than 13 shots while pulling down 8.4 boards. He was the Big 12 Player of the Year and also stepped up in the Big 12 Tournament and NCCA Tourney. So why might he go undrafted? Well, first of all, he is 23 years old. Secondly, he is considered a tweener, as he spent more time on the interior than the perimeter on defense this year, so there are questions as to whether he can cover SF’s. Sounds a lot to me like a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard. If Ejim goes undrafted, Dell should be trying to lock him up immediately.

Jordan Bachynski, C, Arizona State

The main knocks against the 7’2″ Bachynski is that he is already 24 and lacks the stamina to ever be a 30 mpg center in the NBA. Both of those things are fine with Dell and Monty, as they are looking for a space eater to take up some minutes, not a long term starter. He is an old school, back to the basket center and a dominant shot blocker (4 per game in just 31 minutes). It never hurts to have another big body around to provide competition or to see if you can develop.

Josh Huestis, F, Stanford

Same old story here, as Huestis will be 23 at the beginning of next season and has limited upside, but what he does bring is tremendous wing defense and rebounding ability. For those who follow college basketball, he is the Aaron Craft of small forwards. Doesn’t score much, but he can effect a game with his defense. He is 6’8″ with a 7’1″ wingspan and possesses great quickness and overall athletic ability. He has improved his three-point shooting over his 4 years and has the potential to be a threat from behind the arc. In addition, he block numbers are off the chart for a small forward, averaging nearly 2 per game, putting him atop the SF list in this draft.

Laquinton Ross, F, Ohio State

Ironically, if Ross would have come out a few years ago, he might have been drafted off potential. But with him about to turn 22, he is just an old, washed up prospect in the eyes of talent evaluators. He is a long small forward with good athleticism that is inconsistent behind the arc, but is great at getting to the free throw line (more than 6 FTA’s per 36). The big issue with Ross is, like Ejim, defended bigs more often than he defended on the perimeter.

Joe Harris, F, Virginia

Harris is going to be 23 before the season starts and put up somewhat pedestrian stats. He has a pretty small wingspan relative to most prospects and he was poor when it came to rebounds, blocks, and steals. So why are we even talking about him? Because Harris is one of those rare players whose game is more than the sum of its parts. He is a high IQ player that can shoot the lights out, and some of his pedestrian stats can be attributed to Virginia’s remarkably slow pace under Tony Bennett. Harris was the key piece that led UVA to a regular season and post season ACC title and an Elite 8 run, so he knows how to find a way even if the numbers don’t scream ‘spectacular.’

Fuquan Edwin, F, Seton Hall

When you look at the past two years, Edwin is #1 in this draft in steals per 40 minutes. And according to most analytics guys, steals translate better than any other single stat when evaluating a player. It shows athleticism and IQ, and Edwin has both of those attributes. He also has the ability to score in bunches, though he is inconsistent. Edwin needs to continue improving his outside shot and he also needs to put on weight, but if he does, he can be a steal as an undrafted free agent.

Other Guys to Watch

Small forward and Center are the current positions of need, but great teams develop players at every position so they can make moves down the line or replace a player who is about to get a payday with a cheaper option. Looking beyond the small forward and center positions, here are some guys Dell could target that might pay off down the line.

Russ Smith, G, Louisville

On a recent podcast, Ryan said that a big need for the Pelicans is a backup point guard who can hound opposing ball handlers. Russ Smith fits the bill as a bulldog in the backcourt who comes from a winning program and can also knock down the open three.

Jabari Brown, G, Missouri

Brown is one of the best shooters in the draft, and if the Pelicans are going to follow the Spurs model, they are going to find cheap shooters and develop them into something more. Sean Kilpatrick from Cincinnatti, Lamar Patterson from Pitt, and Andre Dawkins from Duke also fit this mold.

Juvonte Reddic, F, VCU

Reddic probably would have gotten drafted if he came out last year, but his production dipped quite a bit this year. Still, he is a poor mans’ Kenneth Faried, as he is an all out monster on the offensive glass, averaging over 5 offensive boards per 40. If not for the dip in his offensive output (went from 21 points per 40 to 17 this year), he could have been a fringe 1st rounder.

Khem Birch, F, UNLV

2nd in offensive rebounding per 40 minutes pace adjusted and 3rd in blocked shots: Shoulds like somebody who Dell and Monty could fall in love with, no? UNLV was a mess offensively, and Birch wasn’t utilized much, but that might be such a bad thing, as he likely would never have a play drawn up for him here either.

 (In Part Two, I will take a look at a few prospects that Dell might target with a late 1st/early 2nd round pick) 

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