Pelicans Scoop: Drafting and D-League

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Published: June 10, 2017

Jason, Jake, Michael and Mason discuss the Draft and the team’s upcoming D-League, soon to be G-League, franchise.

1. Do you want a late first, and for what?

Jake Madison: If they give up this year’s second round pick and next year’s, sure why not? The quality of players is going to be higher at the end of the first round than the second. But for anything more substantial than that (assuming Benson buying a pick is off the table) then I’ll pass. I’d rather save assets for making moves during the season.

Mason Ginsberg: Not particularly. The Pelicans would be better off making a similar move to what they did last season – adding another second round pick, and then packaging it with their current pick to move up earlier in the second round. Adding the guaranteed salary that a late first round pick requires could be problematic in certain summer cap scenarios, particularly because that player’s impact for the next couple of years would likely be minimal.

Jason Calmes: I agree with the overall sentiment. I can’t see them getting a late first apart from something like Jake said. Some teams want to avoid the guaranteed salary, as Mason said, and the politics of separating from “a first round draft choice,” so they may trade the pick and get a more releasable player. There’s no substitute for having the player you want, so I won’t complain if they trade up for a guy, but he better show some chops come mid-season. It’s less of a big deal if they plan to operate over the cap.

Michael McNamara: Not just one. I want two. I would be willing to give up next year’s first (top-3 protected) for picks in this year’s draft. Portland has three picks (15, 20, and 26). The Nets have 22 and 27. The Jazz have 24 and 30, and the Hawks have 19 and 31. I would seriously entertain trading next year’s pick for multiple picks in this draft, and then I would have three shots to try and find my Jimmy Butler, my Khris Middleton, or Draymond Green. It also prevents the Pelicans for inevitably trading that pick for another middling young vet that they will eventually have to either let walk or overpay.

2. Should the Pelicans get more second round picks?

JM: If there is a guy they really, really want, then sure. This team will be operating without a lot of flexibility so getting end of bench guys on a cheap contract has value.

MG: I’d be surprised if they trade for a pick, but could easily see them moving their current one. If that pick facilitates a trade to move a guaranteed contract (Ajinca comes to mind first, but even Pondexter if they have a great reason to create space), it is probably as good as gone. Otherwise, the Pels will likely stand pat.

42: I don’t think so. Unless it is to move up, as mentioned above, I don’t really want them to walk away with more than one player total. As McNamara mentioned, they have Diallo as “their pick” this season, and the new guy. The team has done much better churning markets other than the deep draft, so I’m confident they can get talent elsewhere without spending resources, including time and brainpower, on the second round of the draft. Besides, they like young vets, and those are not in the draft. Diallo was potentially severely undervalued. Use the pick on those guys, and take a random walk elsewhere.

MM: Sure, if they are early second rounders. My same premise holds from the first question, where I think that the Pelicans need to get some young bodies into their system and try to strike gold at minimal cost. But history says that there is a huge drop off after the first 10-12 picks in the second round, so that is the area the Pelicans should target, and history also says to target upperclassmen, shooters, and foreigners.

3. What are the chances of a draft night trade?

JM: Very low. The Pelicans don’t have many assets, and the assets they have would be better spent upgrading the roster with established NBA players who can contribute right away, instead of a project and young guy with potential. I will add that a trade into the second round is much more likely.

MG: Adding another second rounder could make sense for a couple of reasons (one such reason listed above), but only if ownership will authorize the front office to buy a mid-to-late second round pick. Otherwise, the cost may outweigh the expected return.

42: Other than trades for picks, I can only see the Pelicans making a facilitating-type move, to pick up something to help them later. Maybe use their second to get into the mix for a different kind of project player also while unloading, say, Ajinca, to lower their salary if they were going to go under the cap. Overall, I see the potential is low, say, under 10%.

MM: 5%. The Pelicans whole offseason hinges on Jrue, and that won’t be settled until July 3rd or 4th. Because of that, they will be in a holding pattern of sorts until they get his decision. I think they might add another second rounder, but I think it is more likely that they are very aggressive going after guys they like that didn’t get drafted. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they had an UDFA make their roster, or at least get a two-way contract.

4. What is the main benefit or two, worry or two about G-League Franchise, aside from development of young players?

JM: Injury replacements. Now when a Pelican goes down with an injury a G-League guy will be the most likely replacement. That player will come from a team playing the same system and likely filling a similar role. It should make for an easier transition. A worry might be the costs of operating a team and the effect that could have on the Pelicans operating budget.

MG: I actually asked D-League expert Chris Reichert about this topic a couple of months ago in our Q&A about Cheick Diallo’s season (just a few days before the team was first announced). He touched on one of the biggest benefits to a team operating its own D-League team – not just about player development, but the rapidity with which it can occur. In the case of Diallo, he was stuck running other teams’ offenses, defenses and schemes. Now, the Pelicans will be able to send younger, more inexperienced players to a team that operates similarly, allowing for a much smoother, quicker transition. Other than that, I think the Pelicans could see a real benefit if they put an analytics guy or two on the coaching staff. Marc Stein recently broke the news that former assistant coach Phil Weber will likely be joining the Pels’ front office – why not do the opposite as well?

42: This idea of a similarly run team is always weird to me, because which team is similar to one with Davis and Cousins? That said, I think the idea is the role players would be habituated and enculturated in their minor league team, allowing a reduced time to full effectiveness, whatever that may be. Riffing on that, I think the benefit is picking up staff. The team will give them a chance to cast a wider net for staff, something other teams can do, and really get a peek under the hood. They can then watch them closely in their element, work with them, and check their fit, etc. before bringing them to Airline if they turn out to be something special. They have enough young players. The Pelicans need staff.

MM: There are numerous benefits, but also remember that pretty much every team in the league has this benefit too, and compared to most, the Pelicans are playing catch-up. The key with maximizing return on this league is patience — something we don’t see a lot of from this organization. So color me skeptical.

5. Do you have a preference or fun locale, name, branding?

JM: I’m a fan of putting the team in Mobile. It’s the right distance away, can hopefully engage a new market, and the downtown is similar to the French Quarter. I don’t have specifics on branding or name, but the Pelicans should take all of the notes from what Memphis is doing with their G-League team the Hustle. They hit all the right notes with that.

MG: Baton Rouge minimizes travel concerns, but my top two choices are Shreveport or Mobile due to their potential to expand the fan base. Shreveport is kind of caught in between the Mavs and the Pels, so there is the possibility that putting NOLA’s new G-League team there could help sway some people. As for Mobile, there is basically no pro basketball in the state right now, so it would be a good way to introduce it and pick up some new fans. As for a name, I’m still pushing for Brass if the team stays close to home. If it extends further outside of New Orleans, I may have to reconsider.

42: I’ve been a fan of Mobile for this since before Benson, and that remains. Lafayette would be my second place if they were in the running, so I’ll put Pensacola second. Mobile is closer for fans to drive to New Orleans, easier for them to get Pelicans games, perhaps, so it’s a better business decision. Jake’s note of their similarities with New Orleans, including some Mardi Gras, should not be overlooked. If it works out on all fronts, they’ll have the Cousins tie-in to jump-start it. I don’t like Baton Rouge as the site for a couple of reasons, including that it’s just too close to help the business, and Mobile has more to offer than Jackson, the other 2-hour option. Shreveport is too far. Pensacola is the 3-hour option, and it’s a nice locale and venue. There are beaches full of tourists, the former being a small plus for player-prospects or players assigned there, the latter being good for sponsors and business types. As far as name goes, I expect Pelicans or some derivative, like Pels. However, Mobile’s former team name was great, the Revelers, and Pensacola already has a Pelicans baseball team. That’s not a showstopper, but it might give pause if the plan to use Pelicans. They won’t be operating at the same time, so, no biggie, maybe.

 

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