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2021 NBA Draft: Examining potential options for Pelicans with their four 2nd round picks

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There should be an interesting mix of players to select from like Joe Wieskamp, Kessler Edwards, David Johnson and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Oregon at Iowa Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are scheduled to make four picks in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft, presently at No. 35, 43, 51 and 53. Who are several prospects you would like to see the Pelicans select and why?

Kevin: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, JT Thor, Joshua Primo, Joe Wieskamp, Rokas Jokubaitis, Greg Brown III

I always bet on players from Villanova to be instant contributors, so Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is very interesting to me. I’ve seen him mocked into the first round on some sites, but he also frequently falls into the 2nd. Hopefully he’s there when the Pels select at 35 or 43. Robinson-Earl — who the Pelicans did bring in for a workout — would instantly improve the Pelicans dismal perimeter defense. He has the physical gifts and intelligence to be a great off-ball defender in the NBA as he is also noted as an on-court communicator. JRE is not a reliable shooter as of yet — hence the 2nd round grade — however, he has shown flashes and the Pelicans have one of the best shooting coaches in the league so there’s reason for optimism. Despite the shooting concerns, that doesn’t mean he is a negative offensively. He’s an excellent cutter and off-ball mover. He finishes well at the rim and through contact. He’s also a smart and accurate passer. Much like Josh Hart, he’s an active rebounder and hustle stats guy — your typical Villanova player.

JT Thor is made for the Orlando Magic. He’s a long switchable defender that has guard-like defensive reflexes in the body of a power forward (6’-9” tall with a 7’-3” wingspan). Like former and current Magicians — Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu and even Aaron Gordon to some extent, Thor is a huge question mark offensively. He’s very explosive and runs the floor well in transition, which could serve lob-tossing kings Lonzo Ball (if he’s retained) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker well on the break. His shot needs improvement, though he did shoot 74% from the line, which is promising. However, he currently cannot handle ball pressure and is a poor decision maker when pressed. His physical gifts and defensive instincts have him going late first in some mock drafts, but his offensive liabilities have him falling into the early 2nd in many. If he’s there for the Pels in round two, he’d be a nice project.

Joshua Primo is probably going in the 1st round, but he is still a 2nd rounder in several mock drafts. Primo struggles to finish at the rim, has a questionable handle and is turnover prone; however, he’s an excellent shooter with deep range, off-the-dribble, in catch-and-shoot situations and while moving. He’s also a solid on-ball defender.

Joe Wieskamp is an absolute marksman from deep, shooting 46.2% in his junior season at Iowa. Strangely, he’s not a great free throw shooter, converting only 67.7% from the stripe. That being said, he’s that fear-inducing floor spacer the Pelicans desperately need. Standing 6’-6” and possessing that shooting stroke, he is often compared to Duncan Robinson. However, he is a lot quicker and a more willing defender than Robinson. Wieskamp also is a decent rebounder. His main knocks are his age and his ball handling.

Rokas Jokubaitis is not fleet enough of foot to launch him into the first round. However, he has the tools to create space with a great hesitation stop-n-go game. He’s also a ball-fake wizard who should thrive in pick-and-rolls. He has a nice floater and mid-range game but often settles for long twos when he should step back for threes — where he did shoot 38.8% (but only on 49 attempts). Should the Pels move out some of their point guards, Jokubaitis could be a nice addition to the end of the point guard rotation, or a guy to run the G-League team while Trajan Langdon takes his time to firm up the big league guard rotation.

Greg Brown III could be the mini-me for Jaxson Hayes, though some have compared him to Jerami Grant. He’s 6’-8” and has incredible athleticism, but he’s extremely raw when it comes to basketball skills. He fouls a lot, has bad shot mechanics and a worse handle. However, like Hayes, his physical gifts are tantalizing. If Brown can be paired with the right veteran — see what Steven Adams did for Jaxson Hayes — he could pay off greatly in a couple of years. He’ll at least make the G-League team fun to watch, especially if paired with Jokubaitis.

Charlie: David Johnson, Matthew Hurt, Scottie Lewis

My homer answer is guard David Johnson. (Important disclosure: Johnson graduated from my alma mater in Louisville, KY.) But I legitimately believe Johnson has serious pro potential and could have a long healthy career. As a 6’5 point guard facilitator, he’s also built himself up on defense. The shooting will come along, but his physical tools, work ethic and size would be a great get late in the second round.

Besides Johnson, Duke forward Matthew Hurt would make for an excellent gamble as a stretch big that’s crafty and long, and Florida wing Scottie Lewis could give you the defensive prospect Moses Moody could become — minus the shooting though.

Just please don’t pick Providence guard David Duke.

Oleh: Joe Wieskamp, Kessler Edwards, Moses Wright, Jason Preston, Juhann Begarin

The Pelicans do not have a dead-eye shooter currently on the roster so Joe Wieskamp should be of particular interest to the Pelicans if pick No. 17 doesn’t result in Corey Kispert or Trey Murphy III. In three combined seasons at Iowa, Wieskamp knocked down 41.2% of his 447 3-point attempts. However, in addition to that shooting prowess, a 6’11 wingspan and an excellent performance at the combine (4th-best lane agility time, 5th-best max vertical, 6th-best three-quarter court sprint) bodes well for a long successful NBA career, especially if a strong developmental program can improve his flexibility (for defensive purposes) and ball-handling.

Kessler Edwards is another long wing, standing 6’8 with a 6’11 wingspan, who demonstrated an ability to shoot the three-ball at Pepperdine, converting 380 collegiate attempts at a 39.5% clip. Unlike Wieskamp though, he’ll enter the NBA as a much better defender (with career collegiate averages of 1.0 steals and 1.3 blocks) and finisher in the paint (made 67.1% of his attempts at the rim out of half-court sets). I’m really a huge fan of his.

Three other names I’m watching for New Orleans in the range of the No. 40, 51 and 53 picks include several two-way candidates and one potential draft-and-stash.

  • Jason Preston (21-year-old, 6’4 height, 6’9 wingspan) — is a fantastic story, but for our purposes, has very good size for a point guard and possesses a fantastic feel for the game. He put up fun lines in his last two years at Ohio University, with averages of 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.6 3PM and a 39.0 3PT% coming in his junior season.
  • Moses Wright (22-year-old, 6’9 height, 7’1 wingspan) — really improved over the course of his career at Georgia Tech and is coming off an ACC Player of the Year campaign that saw him average 17.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.6 blocks. His strong offensive rebounding numbers stand out and he even knocked down 12 of 29 threes (41.4%). Overall, Wright is a very interesting prospect because it feels good coaching could really mold him into something useful on the NBA level.
  • Juhann Begarin (18-year-old, 6’6 height, 7’0 wingspan) — has spent the last two seasons playing in France’s second league and should remain in Europe because he’s a couple of years away from making an impact on an NBA floor. However, he’s worthy of a draft-and-stash because his measurables and athleticism are elite. He also possesses an incredibly aggressive mentality.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel, @kevinbforbounce and @CWGthe2nd.