‘Tailor-made for Zion’: Looking at Corey Kispert and others in the upcoming draft

Published: June 29, 2021

The NBA Finals haven’t even arrived and there’s already drama centered around the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason that began with two things, a rumor that soon-to-be third-year franchise star Zion Williamson could possibly want out and the ousting of head coach Stan Van Gundy after 8 months on the job.

Many are assuming the franchise is in a dangerous position early on in the Zion era, which could be true. It could also be true that the franchise is on a much more positive track than acknowledged.

Improvement is absolutely necessary next season but with a promising young roster and a boat-load of picks via the Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans have more options to explore on the path to improvement than they have had in a very long time and the 2021 NBA Draft is the first place they can start.

Drafting at No. 10

Corey Kispert – SF – Gonzaga

At an NBA combine, Corey Kispert said that his game is “tailor-made” to fit alongside guys like Zion and Brandon Ingram. Maybe we should hear him out.

Kisbert, a senior, was a top option for National Champion runners-up Gonzaga, shooting a blistering 53% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. He has the potential to be an elite floor spacer, a missing element in this season’s paint-heavy Pelican offense. At age 22, Kispert may be considered a low-ceiling guy, but on the other hand, he offers no mysteries, shooters shoot.

What makes Kispert so attractive at No. 10 is his underrated ability to do all of the other things. He has NBA size at 6’7 and 220 lbs. and has added a great deal of cutting and ability to finish around the rim to his game. He’s not a stationary player and moves well on his feet when playing off-ball. He also averages 5 boards per game this season. His defense isn’t elite but he shows a willingness to work and use his length to contribute on that end.

Consider this, if you think of Ingram as an oversized 2-guard in lineups, the Pels can get huge on the floor and still run by rolling out Zion-NAW-BI-Kispert in spots 1-4 with Jaxson Hayes at the 5. Kispert is also versatile enough to run as a 2-guard, offering more creativity in lineups and could benefit both Point Zion or frontcourt Zion. With so many players effective with the ball in their hands on the current roster, it would be nice to have a versatile guy strong at playing off-ball.

Moses Moody – SG – Arkansas

I feel like the Pelicans will move Eric Bledsoe, but whether they do or don’t, guard play has to improve.

I feel like, if available, Moses Moody could give the Pelicans a real shot in the arm on both ends. Moody was the No. 1 option for Arkansas this season and it earned him SEC Freshman of the Year honors. He shot 36% from 3-point range and may be even more productive at the next level if he doesn’t have to carry all of the load. He could be a valuable floor spacers with Ingram and Zion and could fill a void left by Josh Hart, who may depart in free agency.

The Pelicans also have to improve on defense, particularly around the perimeter. Moody defends and crashes the glass, averaging 5.8 rebounds this season.

Josh Giddey – SG – Australia

I personally like Josh Giddey because he’s huge for a shooting guard. At 6’8 and 205 lbs., Giddey’s stock has been rising due to his professional experience in the NBDL down under. He could be interesting in lineups with Ingram, who has a similar skill set. Or say, what if Ingram is traded in a blockbuster deal, could Giddey serve as a replacement?

Cam Thomas – G – LSU

Cam Thomas, Bayou Bengal out of LSU, would obviously be a fan-favorite and it doesn’t hurt for this franchise at all to make those local connections.

Thomas is a walking bucket and high-ceiling guy. He shot 40% from the field and is fearless, averaging 23 ppg. At 6’4, there are shades of Jamal Murray or Nickeil Alexander-Walker in his game. He’s creative on offense and a force to be reckoned with. Thomas could be a great rotation guy or a star in the making and someone that a team will want to hold onto for awhile.

Other scenarios

As Yahoo pointed out today, it’s possible the Pelicans could trade away No. 10 to unload Bledsoe and/or Steven Adams. Anything can happen on draft night. The Pelicans could also trade up, packing those four second round picks in some form with No. 10 in some form. Whatever the case may be, I’d expect David Griffin and co. to be aggressive this offseason whether it be via draft or other means.

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