How the Pelicans Can Unearth a Gem in the Second Round

Published: April 13, 2016

While most eyes will be on the lottery on May 17th, and where the Pelicans first round pick will end up, the Pelicans would be wise to focus on their two second-round picks that will fall somewhere between 38 and 40, depending on tonight’s results and coin flips. While a large percentage of second round picks are out of the league before their second contract, there are 2-3 gems a year that give the teams that draft them enormous value. Below is a list of guys taken in the first half of the second round in the last five years, who vastly outperformed their draft position

2015- Josh Richardson

2014- Nikola Jokic

2013- Allen Crabbe

2012- Jae Crowder

2012- Draymond Green

2012- Khris Middleton

2012- Will Barton

2011- Kyle Singler

2011- Chandler Parsons

Looking at this list, there are some common denominators that could help us find the right players to pick. First, they were all upperclassmen with the exception of Jokic (who played professionally overseas) and Will Barton (sophomore). There are no freshman on this list, and while Barton did eventually breakthrough, he took longer than anybody on this list to do so, and didn’t do it with his first team. Logically, you can likely deduce that any freshman or sophomore with real potential will be gone before the Pelicans pick, so you can probably cross them off the list.

Another common factor is that seven of the guys on this list were team captains. High character, hard working guys in college turn into hard working, high character guys in the pros. That’s not much of a surprise. A guy taken in round two likely has a huge deficiency in their game, and the only way to overcome that is to put in a ton of work. And speaking of deficiencies, the reason that these guys were not taken in the first round seem to fall into one of three categories:

  1. They can’t shoot (Barton, Green, Crowder, Richardson, Middleton)
  2. All they can do is shoot (Singler, Crabbe)
  3. Concerns about Defense (Parsons, Jokic)

Some guys can’t shoot coming out of college, but have plenty of other traits that can help a team. Some of those guys never learn to shoot and find themselves out of the league, while others become respectable enough to become valuable to their team. And some guys, like Middleton, even become good shooters despite being terrible in college (25.7% from deep his junior year). Same thing goes for players with defensive liabilities. Scouts didn’t know what position Chandler Parson could defend in the NBA, and Jokic was thought to be too slow to defend in today’s NBA. But both guys are high IQ players and they use their intelligence to be not only passable defenders, but good ones.

History shows that you have to find a smart, high character, hard working guy who already does something at an elite level, or multiple things very well. He can’t be raw or check off multiple boxes at a slightly above average rate. He has to have some excellence in his game, but at least one category that makes teams apprehensive. Then, the Pelicans have to show patience, as most of these players take at least two years to turn their weakness into a respectable attribute that can no longer be exposed. With that in mind, here are some guys projected to go in that range that could fit the profile.

DeAndre Bembry, SG/SF, Saint Joseph’s

A wing who can score (17.4 pts), rebound (7.8 rebounds), and pass (4.5 assists). You like that, don’t you? What can’t he do? You guessed it – shoot (26.6%) from deep. He has the athleticism to defend and shows some promise on that end, but like every college prospect, he just needs to get more consistent on that end. But what you see is a guy who could thrive in a Gentry system. He sees the floor well and loves to pass the ball, and can score in transition. He is a Junior, and will be 22 when the NBA season starts. He fits the profile in multiple ways.

Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia

Like Draymond Green a few years ago, Brogdon has all the accolades and college accomplishments, but he figures to go in the second round because of his age (23) and lack of supposed upside. Brogdon can shoot, and do multiple other things well on the offensive end, but his lack of high level athleticism makes most scouts think he will have trouble defending wings in the NBA. He also might have trouble creating his own shot, being a little undersized for a shooting guard, with below average athleticism. But you have to bet on Brogdon’s high IQ to be able to figure it out, and if he can become an intelligent team defender that doesn’t hurt his team, his wide array of offensive skills can make him a valuable pick.

Paul Zipser, SF, International

If the Pelicans keep both picks, and Dell Demps is still GM, I think Zipser is extremely likely to be taken with one of those picks. He is a guy who can come in immediately and play, having multiple years of professional experience under his belt, and is 22 years old. He has the versatility and passing instincts that Gentry craves, while also being the rare international wing who is also good defensively. He likely will never be a star because of his inability to really create his own offense, but try to imagine Joe Ingles with better defense and spot up shooting. That is what Zipser can be as an NBA player, and if he gives you that, he will be better than almost every other player taken in the second round.

Chris Levert, PG/SG, Michigan

Levert is a senior who can flat out shoot (45% from three), rebound, and pass. So, why will he last to the second round? Defensively, he is suspect and there isn’t a position that scouts will have confidence in him being able to defend on a regular basis. He is likely too slow to defend point guards and too thin to defend wings. Foot quickness is probably the hardest thing for a player to add, but if he can add 10-12 pounds of muscle over the next few years, he can be passable on that end. And if he is passable defensively, he could be a valuable player because his offensive skill set is exactly what Gentry wants – an electric scorer who can shoot the lights out and is a willing passer.

Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas

If you just watched college games this year, and didn’t read any of the mock drafts, the idea that Selden wouldn’t go in the first round would shock you. He has an NBA frame already and dynamic athleticism. He seems to want the ball in key moments and he tries extremely hard defensively. But scouts see a guy who will have trouble scoring in the NBA. The handle isn’t great and he hasn’t historically finished well in the lane. He also has been a spotty shooter, both off the catch and off the dribble. He became a more willing passer this year, however, and is a reliable jump shot away from opening up his whole game. If he can knock down shots from the perimeter consistently, guys will have to run out on him, and if he gets a clear path to the rim, he will have some awe-inspiring highlight dunks.


The guys listed above fit the profile of what has worked in the past. They are upperclassmen or professional players who do multiple things well and were team leaders. They have a glaring deficiency or two, but have shown the desire to work hard on their games in the past. Perhaps more importantly, every guy on this list has qualities that Gentry wants. They are ball movers, and/or willing defenders, and/or knock down shooters. They will all likely be available in the second round because they are perceived to have a lower ceiling than some of the underclassmen or young overseas players that will likely be taken ahead of them.

But for the Pelicans to truly take the next step over the next few years, they need to find at least one diamond in the rough in the second round. I would start my search here.



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