The age old debate of "best player available" vs "fit" continues to rage. Smart teams, the theory goes, pick the best prospect available regardless of fit on the current roster. This system is then reverse engineered well after the draft to demonstrate that a team picked the best prospect available because he has developed into the best current NBA player. Obviously we would like the New Orleans Pelicans to select the prospect who ultimately develops into the best player. So, who exactly is the best player available? It depends on who you ask!
NBA teams develop their own big boards. Dell Demps and his team, including the newly acquired Danny Ferry, are deep in the process of dissecting each prospect and likely ranking them in some holistic manner. An entire cottage industry of writers do the same for a number of websites. Here we will discuss four different big boards (which, importantly, are not mock drafts) from ESPN (Chad Ford), Draft Express (Jonathan Givony), CBS Sports (Sam Vecenie), and SB Nation (Kevin O'Conner). As you will see, picking the "best player available" with the sixth pick does not result in unanimous consensus.
|Chad Ford - 6/3||Draft Express - 5/27||Sam Vecenie - 6/4||Kevin O'Conner|
|1||Ben Simmons||Brandon Ingram||Ben Simmons||Brandon Ingram|
|2||Brandon Ingram||Ben Simmons||Brandon Ingram||Ben Simmons|
|3||Jamal Murray||Dragan Bender||Kris Dunn||Dragan Bender|
|4||Kris Dunn||Kris Dunn||Dragan Bender||Kris Dunn|
|5||Dragan Bender||Jaylen Brown||Jaylen Brown||Jaylen Brown|
|6||Marquese Chriss||Jamal Murray||Jamal Murray||Denzel Valentine|
|7||Buddy Hield||Buddy Hield||Buddy Hield||Buddy Hield|
|8||Jaylen Brown||Jakob Poeltl||Jakob Poeltl||Wade Baldwin|
|9||Dejounte Murray||Skal Labissiere||Henry Ellenson||Marquese Chriss|
|10||Domantas Sabonis||Deyonta Davis||Denzel Valentine||Deyonta Davis|
Depending on how the draft breaks down the Pelicans could receive wildly different recommendations on who to select. Obviously Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are going with the first two picks. There are a number of different ideas on how the next three selections will break down.
Let's go over three prominent mock drafts. First from Draft Express posted on Tuesday.
Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and Kris Dunn are off the board. Who should the Pelicans pick 6th? It depends on who you ask. Chad Ford would tell you Jamal Murray, 3rd on his board, is clearly the best pick. Givony, Vecenie, and O'Conner all agree that Jaylen Brown is the best prospect on the board. So there is some agreement but Chad Ford sees the Pelicans picking the 8th guy on his board ahead of Murray (3rd) and Hield (7th).
Next, let's check on Vecenie's mock, also posted on Tuesday. Brown, Bender, and Dunn go 3-5. This time Ford, Givony, and Vecenie all recommend selecting Jamal Murray. However, Kevin O'Conner has Murray 13th (!) on his board and recommends Denzel Valentine. Again, some agreement but one of our four boards has the prospect selected ranked much lower.
Finally, we can arrive at some consensus looking at the latest update from NBADraft.net posted on Wednesday. Here Buddy Hield, Dragan Bender, and Jamal Murray come off the board. All four big boards can finally agree that Kris Dunn is the best prospect on the board.
This is just a sample of four big boards. Imagine the variation across 30 different front offices. Should the Pelicans pick the "best player available" when they get on the clock? Sure. Who should that be? Depends on who you ask.