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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: New Orleans Pelicans

2020 NBA Draft New Orleans Pelicans

The NBA Draft is coming up on October 16, which means The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each day, a new team will be analyzed for their past season, their team needs and projected targets. Today, the New Orleans Pelicans will be evaluated.

Summary

The New Orleans Pelicans had one of the franchise-altering offseasons in the NBA last year. The team traded superstar power forward Anthony Davis for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball. They also received three first round picks.

On top of that, the Pelicans earned the number one pick in the draft via the lottery, with only six percent odds to land it. That pick turned into Zion Williamson, who played and started in 24 games, averaging almost 28 minutes, 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

When the NBA restarted, the Pelicans were one of the teams invited to the bubble in Orlando, but did not qualify for the playoffs. With a revamped roster that can become even fresher with four picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, New Orleans will be one of the must-watch teams next season.

Picks

The Pelicans have four picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.

First Round: Pick No. 13

Second Round: Picks No. 39, 42, 60

Team Needs

Players that fit around Zion- The fact is that Zion Williamson is now the face of the Pelicans franchise in a major way. He could be generationally talented if given the right support both from the coaches and on the court. New Orleans needs to take what they know about Williamson and support him in every single way possible, to both cover up his weaknesses and magnify his strengths.

Defense- The Pelicans gave up 117.1 points per game; fourth worst in the NBA. Even though their offense was incredibly potent, that will not translate to significant wins until the team can stop their opponents.

Ball control- Whoever the Pelicans draft, they need to be able to hold onto the ball. New Orleans had the second-most turnovers per game, just above Cleveland. Their offense could go from great to incredible if they manage to cut down on those 16.4 turnovers per game.

Projected Targets

First Round, Pick No. 13: Saddiq Bey, SF (Villanova)

This draft will be very interesting because the Pelicans do not have glaring positional needs. They are set up across the board with plenty of options at every spot on the floor. What they do need is talent at certain aspects of the game, so choosing those skillsets should take precedence. In addition, no one should be surprised if New Orleans trades some of these picks to have a more focused draft.

2020 NBA Draft New Orleans Pelicans
Bey is a defensive prospect who will help the Pelicans right away. (Photo by Tim Tai/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Regardless, if they decide to stay at number 13, Saddiq Bey may be the best defensive option available. Bey is a true “Three-and-D” wing player who can make a difference on the defensive end of the court right away.  Plus, he scores just fine at 16.1 points per game and can grab some hustle rebounds on the offensive end as well.

A good defensive player is what the Pelicans need with their top pick, and unless some other candidates fall for whatever reason, Bey fills that need. Overthinking this pick is not necessary, Bey would be a good fit if he lands in their lap.

Second Round, Pick No. 39: Udoka Azubuike, C (Kansas)

The top-to-middle of the second round is chock full of centers. Most of these draft profiles that feature teams in this range will likely have one center or another plugged in to their spot. It is only really a matter of who fits best and who is available.

Udoka Azubuike may be the best fit here if the Pelicans want to grab a center. His height and shot blocking potential are hard to ignore, plus he is a seasoned competition veteran, playing all four years at Kansas. The other centers that will be available around this pick are mostly European and offensively-focused.

Again, any of the centers in this draft would work as long as they have a commitment to defense. The Pelicans can take their pick here.

Second Round, Pick No. 42: Cassius Winston, SG (Michigan St.)

2020 NBA Draft Profiles New Orleans Pelicans
The team is crowded with guards already, but Winston’s playmaking ability would work well in New Orleans. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Winston is an interesting pick at number 42. He is a great playmaker that averaged 5.9 assists per game, plus he scored at 18.6 points per game clip in college.

The playmaking is what makes this a good fit, because New Orleans needs help with ball control and someone to feed Zion when Ingram and Ball are not on the floor. Since he is a great three point shooter, he can kick it to Zion down the lane or take his own shot if he draws too much attention in the middle.

Injuries are a bit of a concern with Winston, but if the roster needs filling, the Pelicans could do much worse.

Second Round, Pick No. 60: Tyrique Jones, PF (Xavier)

Mr. Irrelevant goes to the Pelicans if they keep their spot with their final pick. The best player available makes the most sense here, regardless of fit with the team.

So, why not Tyrique Jones, a power forward out of Xavier? He averaged a double-double in 2019, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He also has a field goal percentage over 55 percent. With the last pick in the draft that is not bad value at all.

Featured Image courtesy of New Orleans Pelicans

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