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.



  1. pelicansfan101

    April 13, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Not really about this article but… if Demps gets fired who are you looking at that would be a good GM?

  2. pelicansfan101

    April 13, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Also about the Podcast you had with Ryan… I would trade our pick if its top 2 for Jimmy Butler. And maybe they take Tyreke or the Cavs do… But instead of KD or Horford who I don’t think we could get, I would still try and get Batum. Then with the MLE if we still have it sign Jared Dudley.
    PG: Jrue Holiday
    SG: Jimmy Butler
    SF: NIck Batum
    PF: Anthony Davis
    C: Omer Asik
    6th: Jared Dudley

  3. Caffeinedisaster

    April 13, 2016 at 10:13 am

    pelicansfan101 I’m hoping that with Durant & Barnes in play, Batum sneaks under the radar.  If we could snag any of those 3 it would be a coo.  

    If not, we’ve got to nail this draft & FA to get that 3rd guy and supporting cast.

  4. Michael McNamara

    April 13, 2016 at 11:09 am

    He won’t get fired and even if he does, they won’t search high and low for a good GM
    But Schenkey would be the guy if I was the owner

  5. Michael McNamara

    April 13, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    You guys have all been fed a bunch of lies from Dumars camp through Woj. Demps gives Woj nothing. Dumars would give him everything
    Don’t expect a change

  6. Michael McNamara

    April 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I still think signing Batun is a dream, but yes, that is a killer squad

  7. pelicansfan101

    April 13, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Michael McNamara Do you think Dudley with the MLE is realistic?

  8. Michael McNamara

    April 13, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    pelicansfan101 Michael McNamara Maybe. But he is getting older. I think he could get similar money with a contender and would prefer that.

  9. tdcreator

    April 13, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Hornets shouldn’t let him out of their sights but would be an awesome pickup if we could. Is Butler attainable?

  10. Michael McNamara

    April 13, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    tdcreator I posted 3 months ago that if we got a top 2 pick, I think Butler will be a Pelican. Seems like others eventually caught on

  11. NolaWill

    April 13, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    ??? Where you posted that at? The first I heard about the possibility of Jimmy Butler was another Pelican website by one of their readers… Just saying

  12. CoReMeGa

    April 13, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I like me some draft picks… But since this season was so weird and terrible, Dell got to do what Dell does and find players off of the scrap heap!
    At this point I would much rather keep Frazier, Ennis and Dejean-Jones + our 1st rounder as our young guys who could form a nice high effort cheapo bench unit! I wouldn’t mind giving the 2 2nd rounders away to dump Asik for a less bad contract with less years or maybe package them for another scrap heap player that Dell has had his eye on.

  13. Michael McNamara

    April 14, 2016 at 12:17 am

    In an article I wrote months ago
    It has happened dozens of times in my years here. But you trace it back and you can see I am the first to write it. Then, people pose it as a question a few days later as if it was their own. Happens all the time. Not like I care- I don’t make money either way
    But yes, find my Simmons or Ingram piece, look at the date, and then look at the date of wherever you think you saw it first

  14. 504ever

    April 14, 2016 at 9:23 am

    When I look even further back in 2nd round draft history, I see a guy lIke Carlos Boozer who was thought to benefit from the Duke system/machine rather than being a player in his own right.  Boozer went on to become a 20 points & 10 rebounds NBA player and a two-time NBA All-Star.  No one in this article has come close to that level of play and many of the players mentioned are good 2nd team NBA players or barely starting NBA players.  Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to get a good 2nd team player or a barely starter player with this 2nd round pick.  My point is adding the factor of playing in a system that is viewed as making the player a better-looking college player than he is, leads me to look hardest at Brogdon, Levert, & Selden as candidates for our 2nd round pick.  Since this doesn’t apply to international players, Zipser stays on my list, too

  15. bradlaborde

    April 14, 2016 at 9:45 am

    % chance the pels keep both picks?  I’m skeptical about them using these 2 picks on draft eligible players since they never had any interest in them before.

  16. 504ever

    April 14, 2016 at 9:53 am

    The advantage of keeping your picks is you get a system fit player and one that, if he works out, is on a cheap rookie contract when he plays for you.  
    This is the lowest the Pelicans have picked in a while.  I can see possibly trading the 1st round pick (especially in this shallow top talent pool draft where the talent drops off around our pick) but not the 2nd round pick.

  17. LKL

    April 14, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Dumars may not be the next Pels GM, but Demps returning is a nonstarter for this franchise. The apathy from the fan base will force a change.

  18. tdcreator

    April 14, 2016 at 10:45 am

    I like Trimble, Bentil, Hammond, and Layman in the second round.  I really like Shawn Long out of UL Lafayette for a project Big man that could be like Speights with Golden State.

  19. Michael McNamara

    April 15, 2016 at 12:10 am

    LKL I will take that bet if you wanna offer up some odds.

  20. Michael McNamara

    April 15, 2016 at 12:12 am

    504ever Um, Draymond Green begs to differ. And Khris Middleton and Chandler Parsons are far better than “barely starting players.”
    But you are correct, you aren’t going to get many great players in the second round. That’s why they are in the second round

  21. 504ever

    April 15, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Michael McNamara 504ever
    I would call Draymond Green a system benefitted college player.  His senior year he was Big 10 Player of the Year and averaged 16 points & 10 rebounds.  He had two NCAA Tournament triple-doubles and was the Michigan State career leader in rebounds, and he lasts until the 2nd round?  
    He is not an NBA Allstar yet, and I said “many” not all “of the players mentioned are good 2nd team NBA players or barely starting NBA players.”  
    My point was I like the big school players over the small school players for the Pelicans.  Do you disagree?  I could see the Pelican’s taking Zipser and a big school guy with their two 2nd rounders.
    I’ll even add a name to the 2nd rounder list:  Jaron Blossomgame.

  22. LKL

    April 16, 2016 at 6:24 am

    I would say 60-40 they go in a different direction. The only reason the odds aren’t higher is Loomis is much more interested in the Saints. I’m not sure he even likes the NBA. For the sake of future ticket sales and TV viewers I just think hey will be forced to make a change.
    Maybe the Benson family feud will finally be settled by splitting the 2 franchises with the kids getting the Pels. They may not like the NBA that much either but it would be a good asset.

  23. yhwh777px

    April 16, 2016 at 8:54 am

  24. Michael McNamara

    April 17, 2016 at 8:59 am

    LKL And I am telling you – that despite all the logic you have there, they are not going to make a change. 
    This is not a well run organization. It is supremely focused with the short term and it thinks it can get into the playoffs next year, so it has already decided on a path and won’t veer. Expect to be frustrated when you hear there will be no major changes and then again when you hear AD is frustrated in 3-4 years and wants out.

  25. fearthepelicans

    April 18, 2016 at 9:12 am

    A guy I really like is Cat Barber from NC State, in part because he torched LSU twice. Any chance the Pelicans consider him?

  26. CoReMeGa

    April 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Really like the idea of adding 3 picks to the 3 youngins that Dell picked up (Frazier, Ennis and Dejean-Jones). We would have a nice young hungry group!… Buuuuut
    @Michael McNamara how likely do you think these options are?
    1.) if we don’t move up and are locked into the 6th pick – Trade it to the 76ers for SARIC. I’m going to dust that idea off… Haven’t heard anyone mention him in a minute. Saric could be OUR Batum of the future.
    2.) Trade Asik + both 2nd round picks to the KINGS for Koufos. Koufos is a slightly better all around player but cheaper and healthier ( Asiks back scares the hell out of me).

  27. Michael McNamara

    April 22, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Ha- read my Pelicans draft piece article from about a month ago. I had Saric as the 2nd or 3rd most likely trade target. So yeah, somewhat realistic

  28. Michael McNamara

    April 22, 2016 at 12:05 am

    As for Asik. Give up the dream. He isn’t getting traded

  29. CoReMeGa

    April 22, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Haha yup I think that I did read that!!
    I do think Asik is movable… I’m not giving up on the dream… Someone is going to take him!

  30. 504ever

    May 23, 2016 at 12:10 pm

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