On Tuesday, I launched the first part of a four-part series of posts detailing my top 20 trade exception eligible player power rankings for the Pelicans to explore. We kick off 6-10 with a player that has often been discussed in New Orleans Twitter trade scenarios.
6. Will Barton
Will Barton doesn’t have the ideal size to play the three, but at 6’-6”, he is long enough to be a Solomon Hill bandaid, especially considering the Pelicans current plan is rumored to be playing 6’-4” E’Twaun Moore at the three for long stretches. Barton is an adequate defender and in Denver was often tasked with guarding small forwards, but he’s more suited to defend ones and twos using length and athleticism to his advantage.
Barton’s true value comes on the offensive end — bringing skills the Pelicans need on the wing and a familiarity with Chris Finch’s offense. He’s a very good finisher around the rim, excelling in finishing off of cuts and drives to the hoop. Barton has also drastically improved as a deep threat going from a dismal 13.8% conversion rate in his rookie season to a desirable 37% last season — including a ridiculous 57.1% from the right corner. Barton’s ability to score has always been apparent, but he also would give the Pelicans some quality playmaking from the wing. Last season, he racked up 5.9 assists per 100 possessions while also grabbing 7.4 rebounds, making him a triple double threat from the wing that the Pelicans haven’t seen since a healthy Tyreke Evans was doing work in New Orleans’ last playoff run.
I feel like I don’t have to do much to sell you guys on Barton as he’s been a trade favorite of this fanbase for some time, and he clearly checks off major needs. The only issue is that he’s already told Denver that he isn’t interested in an extension and will test free agency this coming offseason. This, of course, makes him more get-able — especially since the Nuggets have a slew of guards on their roster, but with no team control and an obvious desire to cash in — Barton would likely be a one-year rental, which is why he’s lower in my power rankings than his skill set would suggest. However, if you can land Barton for a top 10-15 protected pick or a 2nd or two, it’s a deal Dell Demps should definitely make.
7. Richaun Holmes
Prior to the Boogie Trade, I explored a way for the Pelicans to provide a blank canvas or a potential new GM to paint upon — collecting several expiring deals, shedding salary and adding a couple of young promising players to the mix — with only Anthony Davis, Hill and Moore clogging up the cap sheet. Richaun Holmes was one of these young players I wanted to add for the long term.
Standing 6’-10” and weighing 245lbs, Holmes has the size to play the four and five spots, giving the Pelicans the reserve big they need until Cheick Diallo is ready to contribute. Richaun’s deal is great value at under $1.5k this season and a team option for $1.6k next season, making him the perfect stopgap for Diallo or perhaps even a better option long term.
Holmes is a super athlete that runs the floor well, and his 36” vertical leap adds a jolt of athleticism that was sorely lacking within the Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca reserve center unplayable rotation. Diallo brings great athleticism, but he’s still barely treading water on defense. Holmes is already a reliable defender with great footwork and a knack for coming up with confidence busting blocks — often popping out of seemingly nowhere like he worked at the ridiculous dining experience, Ninja New York in high school.
Holmes also uses that athleticism well on the offensive with tip-ins, put-back dunks, transition dunks, finishing alley-oops (converting on 27 attempts last season) and baseline cuts. The stats support his deadly accuracy near the rim, finishing 71.4% inside the restricted area.
To boot, however, he’s also a solid jump shooter. From the college three point line, Holmes converted 44.4% of his attempts, and he can stretch the defense all the way out with a 35.1% on 77 attempts from deep — 46.7% from the corner.
Holmes’ contract and abilities should make him a very desirable addition. The Sixers obviously aren’t looking to move him, but they do have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Amir Johnson and Jahlil Okafor all able to give big man minutes. Still, I believe Philadelphia would demand at least a first for Dell to nab Richaun from Philly, but I’d be inclined to go higher — and hey, they owe us one.
8. Kyle Anderson
Anderson is a bit of a riddle, but he may also be an answer on the wing for New Orleans. At 6’-9” 230lbs with a 7’-3” wingspan, he has the size to play the three and four spots, but the Spurs have often played him at the two or sometimes even tasked him with playmaking duties — and despite being a Summer League MVP, Anderson hasn’t seemed to earn the complete trust of the Spurs staff.
I’ve always had trouble trusting Spurs players when they are plucked from San Antonio’s system — they never seem to keep the same shine. Still, Anderson’s size and versatility make him a gamble I’d be willing to investigate.
Anderson’s per game numbers don’t jump off the page. However, if you look at them over 100 possessions, he would hypothetically give 12.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks, which seemingly makes him an extremely valuable player and an ideal 4th option behind Davis, Cousins and Holiday.
Yet, it’s hard to look past the fact that he’s not been able to consistently crack the rotation in a meaningful way, and it’s no given that he can be a player that can sustain that production with an increased minutes load and against starting caliber players. Still, he has a good handle for a player his size — even if he is a little slow footed, he absorbs contact well when attacking the basket and has improved as a three point shooter converting 37.5% from deep on 40 attempts this past season.
Anderson is due a little over $2.1 million this season and will enter restricted free agency next offseason so the Pelicans would have some level of control over his future going forward. If the Spurs don’t view him as a key piece going forward or value the roster spot/cap space that would be created by not retaining him in 2018, betting on his size and versatility wouldn’t be a bad thing for Dell. I believe a top 15 protected pick that converts to two 2nds could possibly get a deal done.
9. Furkan Korkmaz
A move for Korkmaz is less about this season and more about utilizing the trade exceptions the Pelicans have acquired before they expire that could bring in a very good piece for the near future.
Furkan is a tall, rangy shooting guard who can get his shot off against smaller defenders. He’s shown the ability to utilize screens to get open looks, and he’s a very good shooter, making nearly 50% of his threes in the latest U19 World championships. He has nice touch on his floater, and even though he isn’t great off of the dribble he is reliable in catch-and-shoot situations. He’s been compared to Gordon Hayward, but may end up being a little more agile.
Korkmaz will be on the first year of his rookie deal after staying in Europe last season, and he definitely needs to add more muscle to his thin 6’-7” frame before being able to play the three for any long stretches, but could give the Pelicans spot minutes there — especially when facing three-guard lineups.
Philly is full of young talent and perhaps would like to use some of that talent to flip into parts to acquire a proven veteran contributor or two — by either trading them in a package or trading them to acquire picks to create a package. Ideally, the Pelicans would bring back Dante Cunningham and add another ready to contribute young vet via a TPE, but if they could also find a way to create enough money to also acquire Korkmaz, giving them a young wing to develop over the full length of his rookie deal, it would be a real boon. I believe Furkan will be a solid NBA player, which is why he is higher on this list than his current ability to contribute dictates.
10. Glenn Robinson III
Little Big Dog is an insane athlete. With a 41.5” vertical leap, he has trampoline hops — which made him the 2017 Slam Dunk Contest champ — even if the last edition was a snoozer of a contest. His dunk reel from last season is out of control.
After bouncing around some early in his career, with stints in Toronto, Minnesota, Philadelphia and the D-League, G3 is starting to show signs that he’s developed into a complete player in Indiana.
Robinson is 6’-6”, but boasts a 6’-10” wingspan and is solid enough at 222lbs to play at the three, and also give the Pelicans minutes at the the two. Robinson finishes well around the rim and not just on dunks. He has a good floater game and a nice layup package. More importantly, he’s evolved and no longer has to rely purely on his athleticism, turning himself into a reliable jump shooter. He scorched the net from the corners last season converting 44% on a nice sample size of 75 attempts. The midrange game is also a strength for Robinson making 43.4% of his shots from 16-24’.
He isn’t a great playmaker for others yet, but can create his own shot, is very good in catch-and-shoot situations and also provides solid rebounding from the wing (8.6/100 possessions) — an area of weakness for Dante Cunningham and Solomon Hill.
After losing Paul George, the Pacers would love to keep Robinson, but this is the final year of his contract. Should Robinson indicate that he would like to see the world outside of his hometown, the Pacers may feel some pressure to move on like they did with George. However, I do believe the price would be high. For the Pelicans that could mean offering up a 1st and a 2nd for a player that could be the long term solution at the 3 or that could walk at season’s end.
Stay tuned for my next 5 TPE targets for the Pelicans coming very soon!