The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on July 29. As the it approaches, The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each NBA squad will be analyzed, team needs will be addressed and potential targets will be discussed.
The New Orleans Pelicans are the subject of today’s 2021 NBA Draft Profile.
The Pelicans started their 2020-2021 season with a new coach, Stan Van Gundy, after firing Alvin Gentry. Gentry spent five years as New Orleans’ head coach, making the playoffs only once and losing in the semifinals.
Van Gundy led the team to a 31-41 record, missing the playoffs and the play-in tournament. He was promptly fired after just one season on June 17. The franchise has now made the playoffs only once since becoming the New Orleans Pelicans in 2016-2017.
Last season, the Pelicans had four draft picks. This year they have five more; one in the top 10 and four in the second round. It is feasible they would trade some of these draft assets for a player or a better 2021 draft selection, but this profile will operate under the assumption that they will retain the picks they have earned.
2021 Draft Picks
The Pelicans have five picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
First Round (one pick):
Pick No. 10
Second Round (four picks):
Picks No. 35, 40, 43 and 53
Three-point shooting: New Orleans sat firmly in the bottom five in terms of three-point percentage over the 2021 season at just 34.8 percent. They also sit in the bottom 10 in three-pointers attempted and in the bottom five in three-pointers made per game. The Pelicans do not just need a player who can knock down the outside shot, they need a player who is not afraid to pull it from deep.
Rim protection: At 4.4 per game, the Pelicans were also in the bottom 10 in blocks. This is interesting considering their prolific rebounding numbers. New Orleans grabbed more offensive boards than anyone in the league and averaged the third most defensive rebounds. A defensive post-player could supplement those rebounds, changing the tenor of the team.
Defense: Team defense was clearly a problem for the Pelicans. They had a top 10 offense, scoring 114.6 points per game. Yet they were a lottery team, finishing 10 games under .500. This translates to a team who need some guidance on the defensive end.
Pick No. 10: Isaiah Jackson, PF/C, Kentucky
First things first, the Pelicans love their Kentucky players. The list of NBA players out of University of Kentucky that have played for this team is far too long to spell out here. Isaiah Jackson already fits a wish list item before his skill set is even taken into consideration.
As for that skill set, Jackson is a combo forward/center, which is already a plus in the age of position-less basketball. At an athletic 6-foot-10 he emerged as one of the best defenders in the entire SEC. He averaged a massive 2.6 blocks per game. Considering the team needs above, this makes picking Jackson a virtual no-brainer.
Pick No. 35: Joe Wisekamp, SG, Iowa
Yes, this might be a reach. And, yes, he has not officially written off a return to school. However, Joe Wisekamp performed in the NBA Combine and was just named Iowa’s Player of the Year, so it is safe to say his chances of getting drafted are high. He has until midnight on July 8 to make his decision.
When NBA fans think of the Pelicans, they think of Zion Williamson first and boring, back-to-the basket play second. One of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league desperately needs a spark in the form of a knock-down shooter.
Joe Wisekamp is very much that guy. He averaged 14.8 points per game and averaged an insane 46.2 percent from the three point line. Plus, at almost 6-foot-8 he also rebounds incredibly well for a guard, averaging 6.6 in 2020-2021. Wisekamp likes to take the long range shots and he makes them at an alarming rate. This player could change the offense immediately if his skill set translates.
Pick No. 40: Herb Jones, SF, Alabama
Herb Jones is a defensive specialist who got his moment in the sun during Alabama’s relatively unlikely run to the SEC Championship and NCAA tournament. He still managed to average 11.2 points per game, though, despite shooting not being his main skill set.
Jones nabbed almost two steals per game while grabbing 6.6 boards, making him an all-around player without a signature. Defensive wings have never been at a higher premium, though and Jones may not last long in the second round. He would make sense for a team who needs an multi-faceted talent.
Pick No. 43: Tre Mann, SG, Florida
Mann is yet another two-guard with a great outside game. He is not quite as efficient as Wisekamp, but still shot over 40 percent from the arc in 2021. He did average more points per game, however, at 16, probably a product of playing more minutes.
He was a number-one type option in 2021 for the Gators. Mann may be a shooter, but can still do a little of everything. 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game round out his skill set to make him a bit of a bargain this late in the draft. If Wisekamp can learn to guard small forwards due to his taller frame, these players could be on the court at the same time and not cannibalize each others shots.
Pick No. 53: Rokas Jokubaitis, PG, Lithuania
Given that this profile has the team drafting a small forward, a combination power forward/center and two shooting guards, the Pelicans may as well round out their draft with a point guard. Jokubaitis may not be on everyone’s radar but he may just be the best available this late in the draft.
Like many international players, Jokubaitis can score with either hand and pass with the best of them already. His leadership is yet to be determined, but he absolutely has the potential to lead the offense. If nothing else, he can distribute to Zion and the Pelicans’ new shooters. Not a flashy pick, but a best-available selection for a team that picked everything else.
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