In the meekest of tones, Happy Draft Day!
Hehe, in case you’re not aware, the New Orleans Pelicans have but the 51st selection in tonight’s NBA Draft. By the time it gets announced, many will have probably long tuned out as the final tier of draft picks in the second round are not typically divulged until we’re more than four hours into the extravaganza, say sometime after 10:00 p.m. Central.
While General Manager Dell Demps has moved up within second rounds the last two years — and the Pelicans have some wherewithal to do so again, New Orleans could go the opposite route and trade their sole 2018 pick in a package that offloads some salary in advance of what is expected to be a very strained cap sheet next season.
If the Pelicans do wind up making a lone selection with their own late second round pick, Alize Johnson is another name to consider. ESPN’s final mock released this morning has connected the 22-year-old power forward from Missouri to New Orleans, but if you may remember, Trevor and Chris alerted us to this possibility a few weeks ago.
Alize Johnson: F, 6’9” - 212 lbs, Senior, Missouri State, 22 years old
15 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 43% FG, 28% 3PT, 75% FT
Eye Test: Johnson was just 5-foot-9 when he entered high school; however, he quickly adapted to his new size. Johnson averaged a double-double in both of his years at Missouri State and brings a level of consistency in the rebounding department that should not be ignored.
Johnson’s jump shot could use some work, but the form overall has potential. As a defender, Johnson has perimeter skills and lateral quickness. He has the makings of a point-forward, but gaining comfort with his left hand and spreading his wings as a shooter is essential. He’s definitely a second-round talent, but a team willing to take a chance on his development will expect his offensive game to eventually break a barrier in terms of improvement.
The Fit: What is he at the next level?
If available, there are many small forward tools to work with from Johnson’s kit. But if he translates better as a power forward, it’s hard to see a positive fit for New Orleans. Outside of him having conversations with Anthony Davis about growth spurts, there’s not much Johnson can currently offer the Pelicans.
Unless the Pelicans are preparing to move on from Cheick Diallo, it’s difficult to envision the front office spending a draft choice on another power forward who needs more time to fully develop.
Personally, if the pick is kept, I would prefer New Orleans utilize the draft-and-stash method. It’s super highly unlikely that the team finds an immediate contributor so it’s better to take a chance on someone who could be an asset down the road like Isaac Bonga or Issuf Sanon. Remember, the Pelicans would get to hold onto the draft rights for as long as the selected overseas player stays with a non-NBA team (or until traded or rights are relinquished), and a draft and stash player wouldn’t count against New Orleans’ salary cap or roster limit until he does come stateside.
Who are some of your favorites you would like to see the Pelicans select at the 51st pick?