March Madness is upon us. With it brings brackets in your place of work, within your family, your fantasy football league, or even here at The Bird Writes. That also means the 2016 NBA Draft is coming, and with it a closeup for prospects few have seen. As the draft approaches mock drafts come far more frequently. Who should the New Orleans Pelicans select with their pick? Two recent mock drafts have the same player in mind; Utah center Jakob Poeltl.
Both Draft Express (Jonathan Givony) and Sporting News (Sean Deveney) agree that the Pelicans should select the Austrian big man. In an explanation of his mock draft for The Vertical Givony explains that the draft is not about needs, but asset acquisition. Poeltl, it would seem, is the greatest asset available at the sixth spot in the draft.
If Utah center Jakob Poeltl is head and shoulders the best available player when the New Orleans Pelicans pick, then they should draft him. It should not matter that New Orleans already has centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca on its roster.
Teams are in the business of collecting assets. The more assets you have, the better flexibility to improve your roster going forward. The draft is not a place to fill needs. That’s what free agency and trades are for.
This season Poeltl has posted an absurd 31.8 PER for the Running Utes while averaging 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. Poeltl is shooting 65.6% from the floor and has improved significantly at the foul line; going from 44.4% as a freshman to 69.2% as a sophomore. He's also a decent jump shooter, converting 43% (40/93) of his two point jump shots over the past two seasons according to Hoop Math. Poeltl is also shooting 71.7% at the rim in two seasons.
Utes' Jakob Poeltl now 13th (yikes) in@chadfordinsider Mock Draft. Being compared to Omer Asik by "NBA scouts."— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) December 17, 2014
It should be concerning that the immediate comparison for Poeltl's NBA prospects is the much reviled (among some Pelican fans) player he hypothetically replaces.
Personally I disagree that the Pelicans should draft a center. This is less about the talent on the roster (admittedly low despite significant investment) and more about the direction the league is headed. New Orleans lacks depth and talent on the wings when such talent is far more valuable than it ever has been before. Simply drafting the BPA has put Philadelphia in their spot, moreso than the tanking efforts in prior seasons.