clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stu Jackson of NBA TV announces draft favorites for New Orleans Pelicans

The television analyst is a fan of the talent level in the 2016 Draft and a huge proponent of franchises taking the time to build a roster from the ground up.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The Bird Writes had a unique opportunity to speak with Stu Jackson from NBA TV late last week about the 2016 Draft and where the New Orleans Pelicans fit into that equation. Jackson is in his 4th year as an analyst for NBA TV, but most are probably familiar with his work for the league office where he spent 13 years governing on all matters relating to the play on the court. Prior to that, he had head coaching stints with the New York Knicks, the Vancouver Grizzlies and Wisconsin Badgers.

We don't require advice on any disciplinary action at the moment -- unless of course Dell Demps decides to make a widely unpopular pick or trade -- so the entirety of the fifteen minute interview was dedicated to discussing possible draft selections for the Pelicans, in both the first and second rounds, as well as the ideological value behind prospects.

Contrary to some popular views, Jackson opined that the 2016 NBA draft compares very well to previous years because of the players slated to be chosen towards the top of the first round.

"You look at the lottery-type players because those are the players that would project as potential All-Stars. I think you have a lot of size in this year's lottery starting with Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Domantas Sabonis, Deyonta Davis, and the kid from Kentucky, Skal Labissiere. You've got a number of players from 6'10'' - 7'0'' that give it real depth from a size standpoint."

Jackson went on to add that he believes Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Chriss and Bender will all be off the board before New Orleans pick because size tends to move up in the draft. He stated that Buddy Hield, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray and Jaylen Brown are the names likely to be in New Orleans wheelhouse at the sixth selection.

At my urging, Jackson gave scouting reports on the three players often rumored to be in the crosshairs of the Pelicans over these last few months: Hield, Dunn and Bender.

"Buddy Hield to me is the best shooter in college basketball. I don't think he is the kind of playmaker that you would like, but I don't know if there is going to be a better shooter in the draft. On top of that, he possesses outstanding character -- a guy that has a very high work ethic."

"If you look at where he was just a year ago as a junior to what he became in terms of College Player of the Year, he worked his tail off. I think you're getting that kind of player. Defensively, he has some improvement to make, but offensively he can get a shot."

"Kris Dunn, I am a little biased because of my day job as Senior Associate Commissioner of Mens Basketball in the Big East. Kris is going to be a very good NBA player because he has some leadership ability, a very high work ethic, basketball IQ, he's long, he's athletic and he can play on both sides of the ball. He is a terrific, terrific defender and has the god-given skill that you can't teach which is the anticipation of an NFL cornerback."

"Bender, on the other hand, he's young, he's raw, but of the three players he may have the most upside. To me in this draft, he's this year's Kristaps Porzingis. He's long and has one huge wingspan. He can grab the ball off the backboard and can start the break, which is a very valuable weapon for anyone who has shooters and athleticism on the wings. He can score from the midrange. He's an inconsistent perimeter shooter now, but I do think he'll be a 3-point shooter in time. In other words, he's not as good as Porzingis from the perimeter at this stage of the game."

"But, where he is better is defensively -- he can really move his feet. In today's NBA, where you have to go out on the floor and guard bigs and smalls in pick and roll situations, I think he has a lot of upside there."

"Now, the downside with Bender is he has never dominated at any level and that scares me... So really you're projecting him what he will be. And the key with him is mentally where you think he's at."

Next, Jackson revealed two of his favorite candidates slated to be chosen in the second round. Fittingly, both players are considered underrated by myself and several other writers of The Bird Writes. The first, Malcolm Brogdon, is a favorite of David Fisher, who recently published his draft profile.

"You know, I'll tell you what. A guy I think that people are going to miss on is this kid from Virginia, Brogdon. Anything he does, he's going to be successful. He may President of the United States one day, but until that happens {Stu chuckles} I think he's the kind of player that you can get fooled at by his lack of athleticism."

"But, you should be seduced by the fact that he knows how to play, he can really shoot, he's got great leadership qualities, he's strong, he's powerful and he can defend his position. To me, he's NBA ready."

The next second round favorite of Jackson's was Caris LeVert, incidentally also a favorite of mine.

"The kid, Caris LeVert, from Michigan. He's been injured a little bit. If he overcomes his injury history, he is really, really talented. I mean really talented. He has got a lot of energy. I really like him."

Jackson would go on to mention LeVert's defensive potential is high and alluded to the fact that he could become a two-way player, "which are hard to find."

When asked to speculate on any trade scenarios involving the Pelicans sixth overall draft pick, Jackson politely declined, but he did reveal a strong belief that teams should look to groom their own talent.

"Player development has become such a key factor in the success of franchises in the NBA. Acquiring, whether its through the draft or the D-League, your ability to develop talent, in of itself, is a major, major key on whether or not you have success in this league. Also, it's a major key in terms of building value for your franchise. That's your edge. With trades, you know what you're getting, but at the end of the day, if you have the ability to develop young players that's really where you franchise is going to be made or broken."

Following the lack of envisioned success from the acquisitions of Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Omer Asik, fans are probably begging more than ever for Demps to change his philosophy. Jackson believes building through the draft helps on several fronts.

"My preference is I think you have to build through the base which is through the draft. There you have an opportunity to potentially draft an All-Star. Also, I think for your fans, it just gives them a sense of hope that perhaps making a trade does not do."

Hard to imagine too many fans would disagree with this notion, right?

The Bird Writes would like to express their thanks to Stu Jackson, Jake Moskowitz and Turner Sports for making this interview possible. For all your draft coverage, be sure to spend some time watching NBA TV this week.

NBA TV analyst Stu Jackson will be part of the network’s week-long NBA Draft coverage, including Draft HQ (Monday, June 20 at 9 p.m. ET), Mock Draft 2016 (Wednesday, June 22 at 9 p.m. ET) and live draft day coverage beginning at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 23.