New Orleans struck gold in last year’s draft when it took Herb Jones in the second round. Few rookies had as much of an impact as Jones, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Clearly, head coach Willie Green wants to prioritize defense, so we could see the Pels select a player like Benn Mathurin, Jalen Duren, Tari Eason, or Dyson Daniels with the eighth overall pick. Check out my complete analysis below of the Pelicans’ targets heading into this year’s draft and who I believe will fit in well in New Orleans.
New Orleans Pelicans Draft Picks
- 1 (8)
- 2 (41)
- 2 (52)
New Orleans Pelicans Draft Needs
New Orleans should have plenty of talented prospects to choose from with the 8th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Some of my favorite targets for the Pels are Dyson Daniels, Benn Mathurin, and Tari Eason. Dyson Daniels would fill an immediate role for the Pels, who are trying to become a defensive-centric basketball team, evidenced by the last third of the 2021-22 season. Daniels fits the bill; he’s a 6-foot-8 guard who can defend multiple positions and assume some primary ball-handling responsibilities with C.J. McCollum. However, the current likelihood of Daniels being available at eighth is not very high. There are talks about Daniels going between fourth and seventh due to his skyrocketing draft stock. If he’s there at No. 8, I don’t see New Orleans passing on him. There’s also a possibility that New Orleans trades out of the eighth pick for a win-now player. The Pels caused a stir in the playoffs and didn’t even have Zion Williamson available, so adding him back into the lineup with another rotational piece could make them a dark horse next season.
New Orleans Pelicans Draft Targets
- Dyson Daniels
Daniels would be the perfect Pelicans player, and you cannot convince me differently. The Pels have tons of length and versatility; every player assumes multiple out-of-position responsibilities. For instance, McCollum and Ingram will bring the ball up the floor despite not being point guards, while Herb Jones can defend multiple positions and has terrific switchability on the other end. Daniels is a massive guard who has grown several inches in the past year and developed enough upper and lower body strength to match up with multiple different types of players. He also gives high playmaking upside to a team that could use a high IQ passer who does not seek his shot first.
- Benn Mathurin
Another guard that the Pels would love to have if Daniels is not available is Benn Mathurin. Mathurin is an uber-athletic guard with a pure shooting stroke and high-scoring upside. Additionally, Mathurin is a tenacious competitor with a solid defensive motor, which would fit what the Pels are looking for in a young player. Mathurin may not quite be as perfect of a fit as Daniels, but he could be a substantial 3-and-D player right off the bat.
- Tari Eason
Eason was one of the better overall defenders last season in college basketball, and he can certainly put the ball in the basket, too, courtesy of “bully ball.” His wingspan, physique, and athleticism make him a high upside prospect that could fit in well with the Pels on both ends of the floor. If he develops a more consistent three-point shot, Eason could be a top 10 prospect in this draft.
- Kennedy Chandler
Kennedy Chandler would be an excellent pick for New Orleans if he somehow slips to the second round due to unfavorable measurements. Chandler is a competitor and would fit in well in that offense that has several guys who are more apt scorers; he has no issues being a pass-first point guard. Chandler will be worth trading up for with the No. 41 pick and a future draft pick if the Pels cannot land Daniels at No. 8.
Recent New Orleans Pelicans Draft Picks & Tendencies
- 2020: Kira Lewis Jr – 13th Overall
- 2019: Zion Williamson – 1st Overall
- 2016: Buddy Hield – 6th Overall
- 2012: Anthony Davis – 1st Overall, Austin Rivers – 10th Overall
- 2009: Darren Collison – 21st Overall
- 2007: Julian Wright – 13th Overall
New Orleans hasn’t had a ton of first-round picks over the past decade, but it has done an excellent job when it has them. Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson were the two best selections, who were No. 1 overall picks. Those may seem like the easy and apparent picks, but nothing is simple when that clock starts ticking on draft night. Other players that New Orleans has selected in the first round in the recent past include Kira Lewis Jr, Buddy Hield, Austin Rivers, Darren Collison, and Julian Wright.