Hopes are high the Pelicans’ success through the draft will continue

Published: Jun. 25, 2022 at 11:41 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2022 at 12:04 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The moment Anthony Davis departed New Orleans for LA, everything changed for the Pelicans.

While the vision may have been cloudly to start due to the lack of wins, the franchise began to change as VP David Griffin and GM Trajan Langdon began to rebuild using an opposite approach than the previous management did.

To start the Zion Williamson era, the Pelicans began to stockpile picks and use the coming seasons to assess which acquired players would be fits and which one could be assets for something else. Like any rebuilding project, there were bumps along the way, but the seeds have sprouted and we’re starting to see some flowers bloom.

It began with drafting Zion, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickiel Alexander-Walker in 2019. Hayes became a starter at power forward for a missing-in-action Zion and Alexander-Walker was moved to make a deal for C.J. McCollum work. These moves helped bring the team into last season’s playoff mix.

In the 2021 draft, the team took Trey Murphy III in the first round, who became an essential 3-and-D rotational piece. They also came up with steals in the second round with eventual starter Herb Jones out of Alabama and undrafted point guard Jose Alvarado out of Georgia Tech. They all combined to become one of the best rookie classes in the NBA, contributing greatly in minutes on a playoff team.

In this week’s NBA draft, the Pelicans appear to have possibly repeated team building through the draft once again.

Dyson Daniels - Guard - G-League Ignite

If the saying “defense wins championships” is true, then the Pelicans are going all-in with who they took in the 2022 draft. Daniels is mostly considered the best player from last year’s G-League season, averaging 12 ppg and 7.4 rebounds. What Daniels is known for is his 6′7 frame and 6′10 wingspan and using them to be a terror on the defensive side of the ball. Drafted at No. 8 overall, Daniels has the tools to work into being a starter for any team that needs him but coming to New Orleans to be a contributor will likely result in a mutually beneficial relationship for him and the team. Depth for the Pelicans is getting very real now.

E.J. Liddell - Forward - Ohio State

The selection of E.J. Liddell is giving familiar shades of when the Pelicans took Herb Jones in the second round. Lidell was projected as a low first-rounder on most big boards and quietly slid to the second round for the surprise taking. He led Ohio State averaging 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.6 blocks as a junior last season. He also was a 37 percent 3-point shooter. Lidell will have to fight for minutes as a Pelican but has the tools to prove he was a draft-night steal.

Karlo Matkovic - Forward - Croatia

The Pelicans are now in the real business of stashing Europe for a couple of years and that’s what they plan to do with Karlo Matkovic, a Croatian national team talent that averaged 11.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 22.1 minutes while playing in the Adriatic League last season with KK Mega Bemax. He is 6′10 and 231 lbs. with high energy and could contribute well on a Pelicans team led by Zion and Brandon Ingram with seasoned experience under their belts.

Dereon Seabron - Guard - NC State

Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall are the latest examples of the Pelicans’ success in evaluating undrafted talent and keeping them around as two-way players for eventual bigger roles. Dereon Seabron, averaging 17.3 ppg and 8.2 rpg will hope to catch scouts’ eye in the same way. He has some similar attributes as Marshall. He’s a 6′6 ball handler that likes to attack the rim and has a quick first step. Marshall found his way into the league with a willingness to play defense. The same could be key for Seabron.

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