Since that spot was finalized after the draft lottery last month, Pels Twitter has been ablaze with various opinions on how best to utilize this selection. Some have opined for a “Best Player Available” strategy looking to immediately impact the Pelicans next season. Others see this as possibly the Pels last best chance to add a swing for the fence high end prospect. Yet others are pushing for a trade back option, both to get off current and future money commitments and because there is a glut of similarly talented players towards the back end of the lottery.
This avenue worked for New Orleans last year when they moved down from 10th to 17th in the Steven Adams for Jonas Valanaciunas trade and drafted Trey Murphy, so I don’t think it’s something that’s out of the question.
All this is to say that the opinions for how the Pelicans should approach this draft are WIDELY dispersed. Given that, we at The Bird Writes polled internally several weeks ago to see where the primary prospects in contention for the #8 pick are for us in a hierarchy for the Pels to draft.
Caveat being, we’ve excluded Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey as almost every report indicates they will all be drafted before the Pelicans have a chance to select at #8. So, let’s look at New Orleans’ options!
12. Tari Eason: Rank Average 11.17
The local kid didn’t grab enough of the attention for The Bird Writes team to overly value him as an option at pick 8. Should they trade back, perhaps we’d be more amenable.
11. Ousmane Dieng: Rank Average 10.33
Much have been made of Ousmane Dieng’s potential and uniqueness in this draft, it just hasn’t particularly “wowed” anybody on this staff. He very well could be an exceptional player, however his main skills seem to overlap with the primary players on the Pelicans as it is. Perhaps just the wrong fit.
10. A.J. Griffin: Rank Average 9.5
The Hawkeye freshman from Duke offers another opportunity to add to “The Brotherhood in the Big Easy” but there’s a lot of holes in his game that worry the writing team. The shooting would be a great boon, but does he ever fully bounce back from the injury? Can he effectively defend wings in the NBA, because far too often he was a turnstile in college. And will he had anything further? Lots of concerns.
9. Ochai Agbaji: Rank Average 8.2
Agbaji cracks our top 10 largely because he seems like one of the safest bets. A high floor/low ceiling kind of player. Perhaps a Danny Green career is ahead of him as a shot maker and defensive role player. He seems like he could help, but drafting Agbaji at 8 feels way too safe for the 8th pick.
8. Jalen Duren: Rank Average 8.17
Duren’s stock seems to be consistently dropping without him actually doing anything to affect it negatively. However, Duren is a massive boom/bust pick that could be Dwight Howard Lite or Hassan Whiteside 2.0.
7. Mark Williams: Rank Average 6.83
If the Pelicans decide to take a big, TBW consensus votes for Williams. Potentially adding the long term 5 man for the young Pelicans core is enticing especially when it’s one that’s as active, instinctual and defends multiple positions well with a 7’9 wingspan. Williams could be a major grab, especially with the kind of playoffs that Robert Williams has had for the Celtics.
6. Johnny Davis: Rank Average 5.3
Davis is as argued about a pick as we’ve had in our group chats. Some rank him 1st some have him close to last. He’s a dog defensively but not an elite athlete. Will that hinder him against pros? He’s a monster in the midrange but his 3-ball is shaky. So much of his college scoring was finesse, is that replicable in the pros? TBW can’t decide so he slides right into the middle of the pack.
5. Jeremy Sochan: Rank Average 4.67
Sochan appears to be a plug and play defensive ace for whomever drafts him, and he’s big enough to switch onto some 5s while being quick enough to handle some 1s. That’s a spicy option to put next to Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado as long term cornerstones. All of TBW likes him about the same but still prefer the next few targets a bit more.
4. Shaedon Sharpe: Rank Average 4.5
The mystery man of the 2022 draft notches in at number 4 on our board, largely due to the upside potential. Sharpe is a real enigma, but the Pelicans roster is built well enough that it could theoretically gamble on an enigma and take the time to develop those raw skills. He looks to be one of the best shooters in the class which would be ideal next to Zion & BI long term. But outside the shooting and athleticism, his year-old tape doesn’t indicate specific NBA ready skills. TBW thinks he’d spend plenty of time in Birmingham, but he’s got incredible boom/bust potential.
3. Keegan Murray: Rank Average 4.33
In any other year, I think Pelicans fans would be screaming for Murray. But the two-handed draft win of adding Herb Jones and Trey Murphy last season lessened the need for the multifunctional forward from Iowa. He’s still way too good to pass up at 8 if he’s there and out top two options are gone though. Best player available for TBW crew here.
2. Bennedict Mathurin: Rank Average 2.5
Mathurin has been a projected Pelicans target the entire draft process. A sweet shooting, athletic wing who’s still young and had an all American season for Arizona is a pretty enticing option. So much so he’s become somewhat safe it seems, despite loads of potential. With so much ball handling already on the Pels, adding a thunderbolt of scoring makes sense to most of the TBW crew.
1. Dyson Daniels: Rank Average 1.83
Daniels is the great unifier for The Bird Writes crew it appears. His lowest rank among us was a 4 on the board and appears to be the number one target for most of us. Daniels could provide a lot of the intangibles the Pelicans are looking for in another guard next to BI, Herb and Zion long term. His defensive impact, passing, ability and willingness to attack the rim should be a wonderful complement to that core trio. It also keeps Fred Vinson busy with another long term shot development candidate. If Daniels is there, we want him in New Orleans.