Who is your favorite late first or early second round prospect for the Pelicans and why?
Kevin: I really like Patrick McCaw out of UNLV. In my fantasy-trade fueled mock draft I had him going 22nd overall to Charlotte. NBAdraft.net has him going in the same spot. CBS has him going 45th overall to Boston, Draft Express has him going 41 to Orlando and Hoops Hype has him at 21 to Atlanta -- so he's been projected all over the board.
McCaw is is a 6'6" shooting guard with a 6'10" wingspan. He has the athleticism and lateral quickness to be a very good two-way player. In college he was very active playing the passing lanes without over-gambling. He can guard three positions, providing great flexibility. On the offensive end, he has a solid assist-to-turnover ratio, is fluid in transition and possesses refined shooting mechanics. I can't see him falling much beyond the Pelicans at the 39th selection, so I would love if the team is able to snatch him in the second round. If he maxes out his potential, he could become Nicolas Batum. Check out McCaw's highlight package:
Joseph: This question is tough because we really have no idea who will be there in the late 1st - early 2nd range. At this spot in the draft, everyone kind of has their warts. So whoever you get, they are going to have some major flaw in their game.
That said, the guy I will go with here is Taurean Prince (most mocks have him between the 18th and 25th picks in the draft). Prince is one of the few players in this draft that you look at and you just say, "I'm not sure how that guy doesn't make it in the NBA." Prince has the size (6' 8" 220 pounds) and length (6' 11.5" wingspan) to guard both forward positions. He isn't a superb dribbler or passer, but he is skilled and smart enough to make the easy passes and cuts. Prince is also an above average catch and shoot player from beyond the arc (shooting beyond 40% on catch and shoot opportunities behind the 3-pt line.) So basically he is everything you would want out of a 3&D role player in the NBA. Prince's stock is low because he has very little upside, but the flip side to that coin is he is basically a guaranteed role player that can help a team right away.
Issac: Ben Bentil, without question. A pair of Providence players headed the Pelicans way is not out of the question for me whatsoever. Bentil possesses NBA size and measurables (7'2 wingspan), can easily score 20 with his back to the basket or in an iso face-up game, and is fundamentally fine-tuned offensively. If you could rewind to 2011 and draft Enes Kanter 36th instead of 3rd, would you? I think that's what Bentil could be.
Chris: There are a few players that I would be happy to see the Pelicans nab with either of their second round picks or possibly at the end of the first round, after trading back into that position (Gary Payton II Diamond Stone or Denzel Valentine if he counts as a late first rounder), but the player I am going to discuss is Thon Maker.
Let's get this out of the way, he has huge bust potential, but in the second round, many do not contribute anyway. Seeing as the Warriors will be a team in the West to be reckoned with for years to come and after watching the Thunder disrupt them with their length, adding a 19 year old with a 9'3" standing reach in the second round would help the Pelicans get longer. So he is young and long, yet he is also one of those players that is shrouded in mystery -- the kind of mystery that will get Pelicans fans excited for the 2016-17 season. Imagine a Pelicans draft class that includes Buddy Hield and Thon Maker... the intrigue in the Crescent City would be off the charts!
David: Defense and basketball IQ. That's what the Pelicans should be targeting throughout the draft and no prospect in the second round checks those boxes like Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon was one of the best defenders in the NCAA last year. Basketball IQ? Regularly considered off the charts. Add onto those two key points that he's a superb shooter and nearly cracked 90% at the foul line as a senior. Brogdon is the exact kind of prospect the Pelicans should be looking to add in the second round.
Oleh: Caris LeVert. Draft Express ranks him 48th and Chad Ford, 41st, but it's widely accepted that LeVert has the talent to be a lottery selection. The problem is his foot injury history, cutting short his junior and senior seasons at Michigan. The most recent issue was a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal -- the same injury sustained by Kevin Durant -- and LeVert is expected to miss Summer League competition, at a minimum.
I know what you're thinking: injury-riddled players and the New Orleans Pelicans don't mix well. However, remember that there is little to no risk assumed when spending a second round pick on a prospect. The cost is low, relative to first rounders, and they do not count against the cap. Imagine signing LeVert to a Chandler Parsons type of contract, he overcomes his foot injury problems and then develops into one of the better two-way shooting guards. Theoretically, it could happen!
Fernando: I'm going to cheat a little, as Denzel Valentine is my guy, and he's projected to go anywhere between 14-24. With all the recent rumors that a number of high profile prospects could slip, his knee issues may mean he might be one of the candidates to drop in the draft. Despite this, he checks all boxes. Valentine has a high basketball IQ, is considered a good passer and has exhibited excellent marksmanship from behind the three-point line. It's a gamble worth taking, regardless of the risk.