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Pelicans interested in Jamal Murray and Marquese Chriss according to ESPN Big Board 9.0

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Buddy Hield, Kris Dunn and Dragan Bender are no longer the only players perceived to be on New Orleans radar.

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Chris Ford released his newest Big Board on ESPN several days ago and made mention that the New Orleans Pelicans have expressed interest in both Jamal Murray and Marquese Chriss. Previously, his publications had centered around the names of Buddy Hield, Kris Dunn and Dragan Bender.

Jamal Murray has wavered between picks #3 through #8 in most mock drafts and player rankings for some time now. In nearly all instances, though, the Pelicans have not been one of the teams strongly linked to him. A little over a week ago, that status quo changed. The Bird Writes received the following tweet which clearly showed Murray at one of the trendiest restaurants in the Warehouse District with Alvin Gentry and Dell Demps.

Yesterday, Murray revealed he was planning to work out for just four teams to a Boston Celtics reporter. Lo and behold, the Pelicans were one of the teams mentioned.

Interestingly, Marquise Chriss was the next player listed by Ford, not Buddy Hield. The senior out of Oklahoma is not expected to be selected until the Minnesota Timberwolves at the earliest. Conversely, Chriss has been linked to both the Celtics and Suns in recent weeks. In addition, Hield's age and perceived lack of high ceiling are beginning to work against him.

Hield may be the best shooter in the draft, but the shine from his terrific senior season is beginning to wear off slightly as teams come to grip with the idea that he's undersized (6-foot-5, 212 pounds), he's not an elite athlete and he may be a bit one-dimensional. Upside is so valuable in the top five, and while Hield possesses enormous talent, most teams don't see a lot of upside left for the 22-year-old.

Chriss oozes a lot of enviable traits, but there exists one major stumbling block -- Anthony Davis. The Pelicans have holes across the roster but filling major minutes at power forward isn't one of them. Until the resident superstar agrees to man the middle on a more permanent basis, spending a high draft pick on a position least in need makes little sense. Then again, perhaps the same argument should be made for Dragan Bender.

With less than three weeks remaining before the draft, there appears to be more ambiguity than before regarding the Pelicans sixth overall pick. There is a chance the front office is beginning to have second thoughts, but more likely, I believe this is the start of the patented smoke screens. It's well known that in the days leading up to drafts, misdirection becomes the name of the game. Thus, I'm sticking to my guns and believe either Dunn or Hield, if available, will be headed to New Orleans on June 23rd.