New Orleans Pelicans Possible Draft Targets

Published: June 19, 2014

In a previous piece, I took a look at guys that Dell might look at after the draft is over if the Pelicans stand pat and don’t add a draft pick next week. But with rumors swirling that Dell is aggressively seeking a pick, this piece will focus on a few guys that Dell could be targeting with a pick in the late first or early second round.

The Favorites

The following players figure to go in the late 1st/early 2nd round and fit the need and the Demps’ profile

DeAndre Daniels, SF, UConn

If the goal is to find a guy who can be Kawhi Leonard, or at least 80-90% of what Leonard is for the Spurs, Daniels might be the guy that Dell targets if he gets a pick. Daniels and Leonard were practically mirror images when it came to their combine numbers. Same wingspan, same standing reach, and same max vert. But here’s the rub. Daniels is 30 pounds lighter than Leonard coming out, and that is why he isn’t a top 10 pick. Daniels shot better from three this year than Leonard did, he scored more, got to the line more, and rebounded just as well in the same amount of minutes. He also did something Leonard never did, as he helped lead his team to the NCAA title. Shabazz Napier was the engine that drove that Connecticut team, but Daniels was the main man in their Sweet 16 victory over Iowa State (27 points on 15 shots & 10 boards) and their Final Four victory over Florida (20 points on 14 shots & 10 boards). On the biggest stage, Daniels averaged nearly 19.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds, providing the spark that led his team to a championship. Sounds a lot like Leonard to me, minus a milkshake or ten.

Patric Young, PF/C, Florida

When Antonio Davis came into the NBA, he was a physical specimen who didn’t have an NBA position or a defined offensive skill set. He was just a mountain of a man who intimidated opponents and found a way to impact the game with hustle and tenacity. Patric Young is very much the same way. You can’t draw up plays for him or give him the ball and ask him to go to work, but if there is a 50/50 ball, it will go to Young. If there is garbage to clean up, Young will get every last scrap. But the most impressive part of his game, like Davis, is his defense. He is strong enough to defend in the post and agile enough to be a menace in the pick and roll.

Young is only 6’10” and his skill set says center, not power forward, but that was the argument against Davis, and that is why he fell to the 45th pick back in 1990. But what Davis produced was a 13 year NBA career that featured an All-Star appearance and 7 seasons with a win share over 5.0. Demps and Monty played in an era in which guys like Davis were essential to a winning team. The Pacers had Davis, the Bulls had Grant, the Knicks had Oakley, and the Rockets had Thorpe. Guys like that are rare today, and that is even more reason for Dell to want to snatch up Young if he gets a chance.

Damien Inglis, SF, France

Inglis turned 19 just a little over a month ago, but his measureables and his potential will get him drafted higher than his production in the next few days. Inglis came in at 6’8.5″and 240 pounds with a 7’3″ wingspan. Despite just turning 19, he has a man’s body and is practically a clone (physically) of this years’ Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. He is an unselfish small forward whose rebounding and steals numbers per 40 minutes pace adjusted are incredibly impressive. He has a high basketball IQ for his age and has played some point forward, meaning he can handle and pass well for his size. Like any young player, he was turnover prone and his jump shot was inconsistent. He also doesn’t have elite athleticism, but either did Leonard coming out – he had more functional athleticism, as compared to testable athleticism, and that is what you see when you watch tape of Inglis. He is a guy that will take some time to develop, but I don’t know how Monty could look at him and not see his former prodigy Nicolas Batum. The boy says Leonard, but the skillset screams Batum. With Monty’s help, the Blazers turned a raw prospect in Batum into a quasi All-Star, and it is not beyond the scope of reason that this staff can do the same for Inglis.

Cleanthony Early, SF, Withcita State  

A productive, smart, hard working NBA ready prospect at a position of need – How can Dell say no? Anybody who watched the NCAA Tournament fell in love with Early and it is likely that Dell was no exception. He was one of the best per minute scorers in college basketball, and was nearly as impressive on the defensive end as he was on the offensive end. He was a guy who could create his own offense or catch and shoot. He attacked the rim with tenacity and also drained threes. He shot 58% from two, 38% from three, and 84% from the line while also crushing it on the glass.

His lack of elite athleticism sets a relatively modest ceiling for him, and he also isn’t a guy who can create for others (0.7 apg despite having the ball quite a bit). And the effort on the defensive end that made him such an effective player in college just won’t be enough in the NBA. His lack of lateral quickness and modest wingspan will probably limit his ceiling on that end too. But Early is a guy who can be a starter in this league if he is not asked to do too much. At worst, he is a fantastic backup wing that will bring energy and shooting off the bench. Nobody would turn that down.

Not Interested Despite the Need

It’s hard to imagine Dell being interested in these guys despite their apparent fit

James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky

A wing shooter who came up clutch in the NCAA Tournament. Sounds perfect, right? Here is the problem – Young is just that, young. He is still just 18 years old, and unlike Inglis, does not have the NBA build yet. He also does not have an NBA game at this point of his career. People love Young because they remember the tournament, but they tend to forget how mediocre he was for the entirity of the season. He shot an average percentage from two, slightly below average from three, and average from the line. He was essentially a spot up shooter who didn’t shoot all too well. The kid has potential, but he is just a kid, and unlike Ingles, he isn’t a guy who will likely be willing to go overseas to develop if the team sees that as the best option. If the team were still in the rebuilding stage, Young might have been an option, but that time has passed.

Rodney Hood, SF, Duke

Rodney Hood has the 3. Oh man, does he have the 3. But he doesn’t have the D, and that will be the deal breaker for Dell. I told you all last year that I hadn’t seen a lazier player than Anthony Bennett on defense in my life, and while Hood is not that bad, he isn’t far away either. He just shows no fight on that end, and his modest length and below average quickness and agility make it unlikely that he will ever be a plus defender. If that is the case, why not just keep Anthony Morrow? The 3 is great, but the D ain’t there, and that will be a deal breaker for Demps.

Mitch McGary, C, Michigan

McGary is the closest thing the college game has to Boris Diaw, but the maturity and drug issues surrounding McGary makes him untouchable for Dell and Monty. This is an organization that values character, and while they might bring in a guy with a decrepency here or there if he can really help them win, they won’t go against their core beliefs for a 20 year old project coming off an injury plagued season.

TJ Warren, SF/PF, NC State

TJ Warren is a terrific scorer who can play the three, but he doesn’t score in the ways that the Pelicans need help. He is a guy who needs the ball in his hands to create his offense and he is unable to hit the three ball at this stage of his career. The Pelicans need a low usage SF who can hit a spot up three, and Warren is the exact opposite. He is closer to a poor mans Tyreke Evans, and the Pelicans have no need for another high usage penetrator on this roster.

Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

If you just went by the numbers, you might be able to argue that Robinson is one of the most athletic players in this draft, but he doesn’t play that way when the lights come on. He is a tentative wing player who doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. After an impressive Freshman season, he was expected to take over a larger role with Burke and Hardaway leaving, but instead, he took a huge dip. He is a guy that is far more potential than production, and as is the case with Young, Dell and Monty don’t have time for that.

Dark Horses

KJ McDaniels, SF, Clemson

I try to be as objective as possible and get into the mind of Dell, rather than give you all my thoughts as to who I would pick because that is somewhat pointless. But if I had a pick in the 20’s, McDaniels would be my target. I know Dell will love the defense, but I fear that his offensive game is still too raw for Dell and Monty and he doesn’t have the same upside on that end as some of the other guys on this list.

Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA

If Dell loved Saric as much as we heard he did last year, I don’t see how he wouldn’t like Anderson. He is a 6’8″ point forward with incredible court vision and an all around offensive game. What he lacks, however, is quickness and athleticism and that could make him a liability on the defensive end. That could be enough to make Dell pass if he is on the board if and when Dell picks.

Walter Tavares, C, Cape Verde

If Dell could get a bigger Alexis Ajinca with more upside, would he bite or is he content with the Ajinca he already has? I can’t answer that question, but that is what Tavares is; a 7’2″, 265 pound center with surprising agility and more of a low post game than Ajinca offers. He is raw, but could form a tremendously long shot-blocking duo with AD in 2 or 3 years if developed properly. Then again, so can Ajinca or even Withey

Johnny O’Bryant, C, LSU

O’Bryant would be a guy that a lot of locals would love, and while his low post skills would be welcome on offense and his bulk and wingspan would be welcome on defense, his ability to keep his weight in check could be a huge red flag for Demps. O’Bryant was a disappointment his first two years and only recently got into shape and lived up to his ability. Has he turned a corner or will he fall back into bad habits once he gets an NBA contract?

The True X-Factor

There could be another reason why Dell is aggresively trying to get into the first round, and it might have nothing to o with targeting somebody in this years draft. I want you to picture a scenario. We all know Dell is calling around to the 29 other teams, looking to put himself to make a deal this summer. Now let’s imagine that he has gotten deep into talks with a team about a trade, and they said to him, “You know what, I like this trade, but I need a little something to make it sweeter. I need a 1st round pick in this draft to sign off on this.”

Well, obviously, the Pelicans don’t have one to give, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get one. If, let’s say, Detroit told Dell that they would be willing to sign and trade Monroe for Gordon if they can also get them a 1st round pick in the 15-20 range because they lost theirs, I would think Dell would get his butt into high gear to try and get that pick. Maybe Phil Jackson wants a pick and would be willing to do a Gordon for Chandler swap if he can get a pick with it. Or Denver would do #11 and McGee for Gordon and a pick in the 20’s. Or maybe it is some other scenario that we haven’t even thought of yet that requires a 2014 pick coming from New Orleans to that team.

In fact, when you think about it, that makes more sense than Dell aggressively seeking out a first round pick a week before the draft to use himself. If he strikes a deal for #19, and his guy is off the board at #16, then he is stuck. If he was looking to draft somebody, his more likely course of action would be to do what the Spurs did with George Hill or the Sixers did last year with Jrue Holiday – you talk to a few teams and say, “Hey look, if our guy is on the clock at your pick, we might be willing to give you this asset for him. But if he isn’t, no deal.”

And who knows, maybe that is what Dell is doing and some rumors are getting lost in translation. But don’t rule out the possibility that Dell is acting as a middleman of sorts – just trying to get a pick so he can move it elsewhere as part of a bigger deal.


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