Pelicans’ must be diligent in NBA Draft

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday’s NBA draft night garnered a lot of attention as to how the first handful of picks will play out, none of which involve the New Orleans Pelicans. But that doesn’t mean the draft won’t be eventful for fans in the Big Easy.

The Pelicans currently do not hold a first round draft pick, so it’s possible that the team will be waiting a few hours into the night before making their first pick.

How did this happen? Let’s not forget that New Orleans had the No. 6 overall pick going into last year’s draft and selected Buddy Hield, who they later traded this season along with Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans and this year’s first-round draft pick to the Sacramento Kings to acquire All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

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In my opinion, this was a smart move by the Pelicans management and well worth giving up this year’s first round pick. New Orleans now has two All-Star big men, and with a forward and guard-heavy draft ahead of us, they have the chance to plug young talent into the two holes the Pelicans desperately need to fill, shooting guard and small forward. Though New Orleans will most likely not be able to draft potential superstar players like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox, the team is perfectly positioned to find a diamond in the rough who could possibly lift the program back on its feet.

With the 40th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Pelicans will have plenty of options, but will need to choose wisely because the franchise is in the midst of a sticky situation.

The Pelicans have not had a first-round pick for five out of the past seven years, putting a lot of pressure on tactics in the free agency market. And as the Pelicans head into the next season, its starting point guard Jrue Holiday has the option to leave as a free agent. That, along with a limited salary cap space to sign other players, will make things difficult for General Manager Dell Demps and Head Coach Alvin Gentry as they map out who they will select with their solo pick in Thursday’s draft.

If New Orleans can find a way to re-sign Holiday to a long-term deal, it could push the team over the salary cap threshold and back them even further into a corner as Cousins will be demanding a lucrative deal next offseason.

It is very possible that the Pelicans could trade their one, and only, pick to acquire future draft picks to create depth, but if Demps decides to use his pick, I think the top players who will still be available will be Tyler Dorsey, shooting guard from Oregon, Sindarius Thornwell, shooting guard from South Carolina, Jaron Blossomgame, small forward from Clemson and Dwayne Bacon, guard from Florida State.