New Orleans Pelicans: 2022 NBA Draft Team Needs and Targets
With the 2022 NBA Draft fast approaching, we're taking a look at what each lottery team needs to target with their draft selections, continuing with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Welcome back to our No Ceilings 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Team Series!
Over the next few weeks, we as a team are going to dive into the needs and targets of each lottery squad. What are the weaknesses and holes of each franchise? Are there players targetable in the lottery who can help fill those gaps?
We will answer those questions and more 5-on-5 style, continuing with the New Orleans Pelicans!
Without further ado, let’s see where New Orleans should look for some help with the eighth overall pick.
1. What do you think is the biggest weakness for the Pelicans that NEEDS to be addressed on draft night?
Nathan: PERIMETER DEFENSE! I know, crazy to say those words when the team found Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado out of last year’s class. But continuing to limit how much penetration happens should still be a priority given Zion Williamson’s eventual return and mixed results from the big men on the Pelicans—not to mention Jones can slide up and guard other forwards. Finding a versatile wing defender would go a long way in ensuring this team is deep enough at the right spots to contend in the West.
Tyler Rucker: Wing depth. I’d still like to see this Pelicans team add to their depth in the backcourt. There are some fascinating young pieces in the mix, and I think New Orleans is still eager to see them reach another level. If New Orleans can potentially add some shooting behind CJ McCollum, it could make their rotation that much stronger.
Tyler Metcalf: Guard depth. If CJ McCollum gets hurt, there isn’t a ton of backcourt scoring left.
Nick: This team could use another guard or two, especially since it seems likely that Kira Lewis Jr. will take some time to fully recover from the ACL tear that he suffered last season.
Albert: The Pelicans are the better version of the Wizards. This team has a lot of names, which makes it kinda tough to pinpoint what exactly they need. Zion insurance? Does that even exist? Maybe another wing could be good. Trey Murphy and Herb Jones are awesome but adding another wing is never bad.
Alex: Two-way guards are the biggest weakness on this team. They have guys who can play defense (Jose Alvarado) and guys who can play offense (CJ McCollum) but are lacking those dual-threat guards. I still have hope for Kira Lewis, though!
Evan: I feel New Orleans could add another wing or guard to bolster the scoring and defensive depth of their rotation.
Maxwell: Two-way guard depth. I still have real estate on Kira Lewis island, but their guards either struggle mightily on defense or struggle to put the ball in the basket…or both.
Stephen: Health? Just kidding. I’d say point guard depth–which may be difficult to address in the Top 10, along with defensive players to implement around their big three.
2. Which position group would you target most for the Pelicans: Guards, Wings, Forwards, or Centers?
Nathan: Wings. No questions asked. There are some guard fits to talk about, but the Pelicans should be able to target a wing with the eighth pick.
Tyler Rucker: Guards/Wings. New Orleans should be in a great spot with the eighth overall pick to have an option to add another great piece to the puzzle and make that roster even more intriguing.
Tyler Metcalf: Guards.
Nick: The Pelicans should target guards first and foremost, but they could do with some additional depth on the wings as well.
Albert: Wings/Power Forwards.
Maxwell: I mean, guards, but you can never have too many wings—especially if you’re going to have Zion operate with the ball on a consistent basis.
Stephen: I’m not sure which position group is lacking for this team on the rise. If I had to pick, let’s go Wing (Bird Joke).
3. Is there any argument for the Pelicans to draft based on fit around a core group of players, or should “BPA” be in play at all times for New Orleans on draft night?
Nathan: The Pelicans are another team that I can answer fit for amongst the lottery squads. There are plenty of young pieces to build around in Zion, Brandon Ingram, and of course, all of the youngsters added from the previous draft class. Getting the right complementary piece around those two plus CJ McCollum should be the priority.
Tyler Rucker: You’re going to see that a lot of us on the No Ceilings crew are going to be fans of the BPA route throughout these segments. But New Orleans is in an outstanding position to really stick to that belief. With how the board could potentially be set up on Draft Night, they should have the ability to attack the best remaining talent on their board and add another strong piece to his rapidly improving roster.
Tyler Metcalf: BPA. They’ve done a great job of constructing an interesting team, and there isn’t a PG that really moves the needle for me in this class. Take a swing, and talent will find its level.
Nick: I’m tempted to say BPA for this Pelicans squad. I think that the odds are good that they’ll have a few options on the board at #8 that make sense for them; while they do have good forward depth, I don’t think that depth is good enough for them to risk drafting for fit over taking the player with the highest upside in their minds.
Albert: I’d like to see them go fit. Some of their position groups are pretty packed. I think they can afford to be very selective with this pick and go for a player that they think they can plug and play.
Alex: I think this team is ready to pick for fit. Making the playoffs without Zion was really impressive, and selecting the guy that best fits this current roster could help them get out of the play-in and into the sixth seed.
Evan: New Orleans is another franchise I could see going either way. Part of me really believes the right approach could be continuing to wait to get Zion Williamson back healthy and another piece that ideally complements his skill set well. On the flip side, though, I couldn’t fault the Pelicans at all for going BPA. I’ll say they ultimately end up drafting for a fit, but it’s truly a coin flip in my eyes.
Maxwell: I’d actually go fit-based here. Zion, Ingram, McCollum, and Valanciunas are all ready to go. Herb Jones and Trey Murphy are right there, too. You have plenty of legitimate NBA talent and a star player, so it’s time to focus on helping them move forward.
Stephen: BPA. Let’s make this team as scary as possible.
4. Who are the Top 5 targets for the Pelicans to select with the eighth pick?
Nathan: Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Malaki Branham, and AJ Griffin.
Tyler Rucker: Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, and Jeremy Sochan.
Tyler Metcalf: Johnny Davis, Malaki Branham, AJ Griffin, Shaedon Sharpe, and Bennedict Mathurin.
Nick: Dyson Daniels, AJ Griffin, Bennedict Mathurin, Malaki Branham, and Jalen Duren.
Albert: Johnny Davis, Dyson Daniels, Malaki Branham, Bennedict Mathurin, and Jeremy Sochan.
Alex: AJ Griffin, Bennedict Mathurin, Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, and Malaki Branham.
Evan: AJ Griffin, Bennedict Mathurin, Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, and Malaki Branham.
Maxwell: Dyson Daniels, Shaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, Johnny Davis, and Jaden Hardy.
Stephen: Dyson Daniels, Bennedict Mathurin, Johnny Davis, AJ Griffin, and Jalen Duren.
5. Who is an under-the-radar surprise target for the Pelicans?
Nathan: Jeremy Sochan. The Pelicans could go all-in on just having crazy defense everywhere, building an intriguing small-ball lineup around Zion when he returns. Zion at the 5 with Sochan, Jones, Ingram, and one of McCollum, Alvarado, or Trey Murphy would give teams a ton of problems even with the concerns of Williamson.
Tyler Rucker: Jeremy Sochan. Although I said numerous times above that the Pelicans could target a wing to give them some more floor spacing/offensive firepower, the Pelicans could be fascinated with the idea of adding a versatile defensive weapon with serious upside. Sochan would give the Pelicans another defensive monster to make that team’s versatility just flat-out awesome.
Tyler Metcalf: Mark Williams. The interior defense for the Pelicans is fine, but Williams would immediately provide some of the most consistent and reliable backup center minutes in the league.
Nick: Jaden Hardy. He might take a bit of time to ramp up offensively, but he’ll have room to play more of an off-ball spacing role early on, with CJ McCollum leading the backcourt and Zion, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas up front. If Hardy continues to develop as a passer and knocks down his spot-up looks, he could be an under-the-radar player who blossoms in New Orleans.
Albert: I can see a world where they fall in love with Tari Eason and take him a little higher than I’d be comfortable with taking him. He could offer them more defensive versatility with some playmaking and shooting upside.
Alex: Let’s get crazy and go with Blake Wesley! While he wouldn’t really help from a floor-spacing perspective, I think he’s a guard who the Pelicans can talk themselves into helping out on the defensive end immediately alongside CJ while also having some upside to take over offensive responsibilities if CJ goes down with an injury or ends up leaving in the near future.
Evan: If Shaedon Sharpe were to fall to #8, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see New Orleans rush to select him. I believe he could be a very solid sixth man-type initially for the Pelicans rotation, giving him time to blossom behind and learn from both Ingram and McCollum.
Maxwell: Jalen Duren. Sure, the spacing fit next to Zion could be wonky. But he’s a high-ceiling player, and if you think that either him OR Zion will shoot at some point, it’s worth considering.
Stephen: Although I just listed him in my Top 5 for them, New Orleans adding Jalen Duren is something that hasn’t been discussed much. Giving this team even more of a physical post presence to complement the floor-spacing ability of Valanciunas could help elevate this team’s outlook quickly. Screen setting, rim running, board snatching–Duren can do all of those things, and he has a funky post playmaking skill set hiding somewhere in that NBA-ready frame.