The New Orleans Pelicans are in the market for this year’s Malcolm Brogdon

Published: June 8, 2017

The New Orleans Pelicans have the 40th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. There are several different ways the team could go with this pick, from drafting and stashing a foreign player to developing a raw college prospect with a two-way G-League contract. The Pelicans need contributors though, and the cheaper they come, the better. It makes the most sense for the team to get a NBA-ready player at 40, and given their draft position, they could be the team lucky enough to nab this year’s Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon was taken with the No. 36 pick in the draft last year by the Bucks, and he contributed immediately. The rookie played 26.4 minutes per game for a playoff team in Milwaukee, providing smart playmaking and defense next to the team’s stars. Without Khris Middleton for much of the year and with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the early stages of point guard development, the Bucks turned to Brogdon to run the offense at times, and it worked surprisingly well.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising, however. He was a smart college player, leading Virginia to consecutive Sweet Sixteens in his junior and senior seasons. That experience readied him for a leading role with the Bucks, and he became a darling of the NBA this year, exceeding all expectations. There will be several guards taken in the early second round this year who will be compared with Brogdon. Those high expectations are unfair to the players, but the Pelicans would do well to take one and bet they get it right.

The possibilities include Derrick White from Colorado, Josh Hart from Villanova, Frank Mason from Kansas, Tyler Dorsey from Oregon and Monte Morris from Iowa St. Because of the various options a team has with players taken from the end of the first round on through the second round, the exact order of the draft is highly variable. Well-respected mock drafts have these guys as high as the twenties and as low as the fifties. Considering both experience and skillset, they are the five best options the Pelicans have as guard prospects.

This is purely a look at how the Brogdon Effect (as we’ll call it) could impact the Pelicans if they choose to look for guard help. The dominoes ahead of them, as well as their scouting work, will determine their board much more than the Bucks’ success with Brogdon. However, with Jrue Holiday’s status undetermined and a Buddy-Hield-sized hole in the roster, going with a guard makes a lot of sense.

McNamara wrote about three weeks ago on several players who piqued his interest– mostly 3-and-D forwards. He discussed several of these players as honorable mentions. I think they warrant a closer look, because they are all at least 20 years old and fit the Pelicans’ biggest need.

The team can’t be sure what it will get out of Jordan Crawford next season, while Tim Frazier and E’Twaun Moore are the only other guards cemented in for 2017-18. On the wing, Solomon Hill and (maybe) Quincy Pondexter sit as a decent rotation. The big rotation is overloaded. Considering the options expected to be available at 40 and the Pelicans’ need for a quarterback, it seems likely that several of these players are high on the team’s board.

White is a combo guard who has good pull-up potential as a jump-shooter, with playmaking instincts and the size to play defense. He looks like Nigel Williams-Goss, if Goss was an athletic shooter.

Morris is a wizard in the pick-and-roll, a top flight assist guy who led some electrifying Iowa State teams over the past four seasons. He’s also wire-thin and stands only 6-3.

Hart is a versatile winner who could probably play one through three in a pinch. He’s a sturdy, balanced defender who makes just as big an impact defending as he does scoring. The points might not come as pretty as they did with Hield, but the bunches could be just as big. Pelicans fans might see a little E’Twaun Moore in his game.

Mason is the shortest of the bunch with the least physical upside, but can also put up points from every level and excels within chaos. Kansas played fast quite a bit this season, and Mason was able to find cracks in transition and make the defense pay. The concern for Pelicans fans might be too much overlap with Tim Frazier, and we’ve already seen the defensive ripple effects of having him on the court.

Finally, Dorsey is an electrifying offensive player who was brilliant in Oregon’s surprising NCAA Tournament run this year. The combo guard shot 42.3 percent from three on over five attempts per game, and has the confidence to rise up from anywhere to take them. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of diversity to his offensive game, as he’s not a prolific passer or finisher. He would have to develop into his body to become an above-average defender. The Pelicans already have Jordan Crawford for the role Dorsey seems destined to play, at a similar price.

The biggest takeaway from glancing down the draft board this summer is that the Pelicans have options. Guard depth seems to be the most important need for the team as of now, and experienced guards are the second round’s deepest trove. This sets up the Pelicans for success in this year’s draft, even with just one pick.

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