Adrian Wojnarowski believes consensus exists throughout his wealth of contacts regarding the top three selections in today’s 2019 NBA Draft, including the New Orleans Pelicans selecting Zion Williamson first overall. So does Marc Stein. On the other hand, the fourth overall pick — one of the assets received from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade — is considered to be a total wild card.
David Griffin and his front office have no doubt run through the entire gamut of options, from moving the Lakers 2019 first-round pick in a package for a highly desirable and likely young veteran, trading it down in the draft for additional assets, or perhaps keeping it to select the best player available on the Pelicans board.
Growing sentiment, however, is starting to point in a specific direction.
Silver Screen and Roll, the SB Nation site dedicated to the Lakers, believes the Timberwolves could be positioning themselves to join the Pelicans and Lakers in consummating a three-team deal involving Anthony Davis. The newest and biggest detail involves rerouting the fourth overall pick to Minnesota, with their 11th pick returning to New Orleans.
The Timberwolves have been aggressive in their attempts to move up in the draft from No. 11 and are among the teams that have discussed acquiring No. 4 from New Orleans, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 20, 2019
Obviously, this is but one discussion of many that have assuredly taken place between the Pelicans and other front offices just over the past few weeks, but if we connect the dots of individual players that have garnered a closer examination by New Orleans, an interesting pattern seems to emerge.
Keep an eye on ex-Stanford forward KZ Okpala, who is getting interest in 10-19 range after several strong workouts, a source said. Okapala was a last minute work out in New Orleans on Wednesday in case they move back from #4. Also was in Indiana and Detroit earlier this week.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 20, 2019
Sources: Romeo Langford is in Miami to meet with the Heat today. Will meet with the Pelicans this evening. He's also visited Cleveland, Atlanta & Minnesota.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) June 17, 2019
De’Andre Hunter says “anything can happen” with the No. 4 pick.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) June 19, 2019
Adds he did not work out for the Pelicans.
Jarrett Culver says he also has not spoken to the Pelicans - at least not personally.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) June 19, 2019
De’Andre Hunter and Jarrett Culver, two players pegged to go in the top 10 of today’s draft, have not been examined more closely by New Orleans. On the other hand, Kezie Okpala and Romeo Langford, two players that are expected to be selected somewhere close to the middle of the first round, have either conducted work outs or met privately with the Pelicans.
This is possibly an intriguing and telling development at the same time. New Orleans is taking closer looks at players that are currently not in their draft wheelhouse (#1, #4, #39, #57). In addition, when you peruse all the possibilities in range of the fourth overall pick (Hunter, Culver, Darius Garland, Coby White), the choices always seemed a bit redundant.
The Pelicans appear to be hurtling towards a starting lineup that includes Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. And the bench already feels a little top heavy with guards (E’Twaun Moore, Frank Jackson, Josh Hart). While Langford is a 6’6 wing, Okpala stands 6’8 and possesses nearly a 7’2 wingspan but can also shoot the perimeter jumper (36.8 3PT%).
Shooting and size — these two attributes need further attention.
The starting lineup, while they’ll be fun to watch defensively and fly up the court in transition, could use a jolt of floor spacing and players able to bang in the paint. Jahlil Okafor and Christian Wood are not going to be enough support. (Julius Randle declined his player option and is an unrestricted free agent and Cheick Diallo is a restricted free agent.)
I had previously hoped New Orleans would focus on grabbing some size in the second round with the 39th pick (Daniel Gafford, Nic Claxton, Bruno Fernando), but now the Pelicans might be able to aim higher and target a better prospect. Maybe Okpala or Chuma Okeke or could be in play to shore up the power forward position; Bol Bol or Goga Bitadze be brought in to help at center.
Either way, the Pelicans picture at the fourth overall pick seems a little clearer than it was 24 hours ago. What was previously just rumors that New Orleans may move back in the 2019 NBA Draft has now added a hint of certainty.