Should The Pelicans Try To Acquire A Second-Round Pick In This Year's Draft?

The Pelicans only have a first-round pick but could make a trade to get into the second round this year.
Mar 4, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; The New Orleans Pelicans logo on the court before their game against the Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; The New Orleans Pelicans logo on the court before their game against the Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports / Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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New Orleans, LA - The New Orleans Pelicans are prepping for the NBA Draft later this month. New Orleans currently has the No. 21 pick in the first round but no picks after that. Most experts predict the Pelicans will look to add size to the interior with the expected losses of Jonas Valanciunas and Cody Zeller this summer. The Pels should look to add a backcourt playmaker and ballhandler at some point this offseason.

This year's draft is being scrutinized for not having the upper-level star power like past drafts, but there is still valuable talent later in the draft. New Orleans' second-round pick this year belongs to the Indiana Pacers as part of the Kira Lewis, Jr. trade earlier this season. The Pels could trade back into the draft and reclaim a second-round pick to grab a backcourt player.

NBADrafts.net released its yearly analysis of all the potential draftees for this year. Here is their review of a few guards that could be available in the second round if the Pelicans chose to acquire a pick then.

Tristen Newton; Point Guard - UCONN

Strengths: Big, smooth playmaking combo guard … Excellent size given his skill set (as a combo guard who skews toward being a lead guard)… Excellent rebounder at the guard position … A good passer and can be trusted to lead an offense, as he did for the 2-time champion Huskies … Reliable. Can play a lot of minutes showing durability … Excellent free throw shooter at 80% … Grabs rebounds and leads the break with good proficiency … Fantastic defender at the guard position, especially given his length.

Weaknesses: A bit of a jack of all trades type, without having a skill to hang his hat on … Will he find a niche to carve out a long career without a real standout skill entering the league? Already 23 years of age, limiting his upside … Not the most efficient scorer, routinely around 40% from the field and low 30s% from three … Outside shot mechanics look good but lack effectiveness.

Apr 8, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers during the first half of the national championship game of the Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers during the first half of the national championship game of the Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Reeves; Shooting Guard - Kentucky

Strengths: A 6’6” wing that is wired to score the basketball. Highly efficient. 51.2 FG%, 44.7 3P, 86.3 FT% shooting split, one of the best in college … Averaged 20 points per game for two different teams (Illinois States and Kentucky). Shot 39% from three each of his past three seasons, culminating in 44% from deep his final season on 5.7 attempts per contest.

Has good footwork on the catch – does a good job of getting his feet under him and ready to elevate for his jumper. Can create open looks for jumpers with his step back. Has added a lethal runner that he uses when defenders run him off the three point line. Is able to score reliably at three different levels. Is able to absorb contact at the rim and knocks down his free throws at a high rate -86.3% this season

Weaknesses: Age will be a factor for him, as he will turn 24 at the start of his rookie year – played five years of college basketball. Despite growth on the defensive end, is not a stopper on that end – but will compete. Not especially bouncy on the drive, mostly finishes below the rim. Can go cold, especially in big games (2-9 against UNC, 7-25 (3-17 from 3) against Kansas, 1-15 against Kansas St. in the tournament in 2023).

Needs to be a complementary piece at the next level. Doesn’t have a strong enough handle to break defenders down off the dribble reliably. Projects as a wing only – lacks the versatility teams value. Can sometimes settle offensively when the offense stagnates. Lack of high level athleticism limits his ceiling and role at the next level.

Kentucky's guard Antonio Reeves (12) makes the basket against Vanderbilt's guard Malik Presley (13) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2024
Kentucky's guard Antonio Reeves (12) makes the basket against Vanderbilt's guard Malik Presley (13) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2024 / Scott Utterback/Courier Journal / USA

AJ Johnson; Combo Guard- NBL

Strengths: 6’5 combo guard … Good size and length for position … Good athlete and very fluid. Very quick, fastest in the class, and stays under control at a high speed. Shows off top end speed in the open floor and quick burst in the half-court. Solid vertical and finishes above the rim … Shifty ball-handler and gets where he wants with the ball. Keeps dribble alive under pressure. Effective crossover, good change of speed, and dribble-drive slashing ability. Gets to the rim in the half-court and doesn’t hesitate to attack going to his left or right. Covers ground well on drives. Good touch on floater and solid midrange scoring ability … Effective pull-up off the dribble.

May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; AJ Johnson (1) participates during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine  at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; AJ Johnson (1) participates during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Weaknesses: Still projects to mature physically, but he currently lacks much strength and doesn’t handle contact well, losing the ball at times while trying to fit into tight spaces. Improving strength will be important with his downhill attacking style of play, enduring contact each and every drive, especially at the next levels … Can improve finishing at the rim and overall scoring efficiency. Has plenty of room to improve scoring technique and expand his arsenal. Needs improvement as both scorer and facilitator – can’t sell himself as excelling in either area as a prospect quite yet as he still has a way to go developing as a distributor and ideal point guard traits overall.


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Terry Kimble

TERRY KIMBLE

Pelicans Scoop Writer