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Should the Pelicans Trade Into the Draft?

The NBA draft is one of the more exciting off-the-court events every year for the league. Sixty of the best prospects in the entire world get to see their NBA destination for the future live on national TV and fans gain a new player to add to their favorite team.

With one of the more hyped drafts in NBA history only a month away, Pelicans fans are left in the dust as the team has zero picks to look forward to at this moment. So why should Pelicans fans watch this event despite not having a pick to look forward to? Because every year the draft has a plethora of deals that go down on draft night. In fact just last year, 17 trades were made that varyied from the number six pick all the way to the 55th selection.

New Orleans has historically been trade partner for teams in past drafts, in fact they have made trades in each of the last four drafts. In 2013, the Pelicans made the big move to acquire Jrue Holiday. In 2012, they sent Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for a late second round pick and Rashard Lewis. In 2011, New Orleans traded their second round pick Josh Harrellson to the Knicks for cash and in 2010 they traded Mo Peterson and the #11 pick (which turned out to be Cole Aldrich) to Oklahoma City for the rights to the 21 and 26 picks (which turned out to be Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter).

The point being, New Orleans has a history of making moves in the draft and this year they could very well make a move to get back into the draft. The Pelicans have some holes to fill at certain positions, especially on the bench units, and have some players other teams maybe interested in making a move for.

One player that always seems to be brought up when the words “trade” and “New Orleans” are in the same sentence is Eric Gordon.

Ever since Gordon was given his max deal, he’s been on the trade block thanks in part to injury problems and a lack of consistency, things that have disappointed many Pelicans fans. However, when healthy he has shown spurts of great play which may be enticing enough for teams willing to spend the money on the final two years of his massive contract. Teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets have been linked to being interested in Eric Gordon and would bring deals that could very well involve draft picks like the Bobcats’ ninth or 24th pick or Milwaukee’s 31st, 36th or 48th picks.

Another name that could very well come up in trade discussions is highly coveted D-League prospect Pierre Jackson. Last year, the Pelicans got Pierre with the #42 pick in the draft and sent him to the D-League. After dominating the D-League, many teams showed interest in Jackson at the trade deadline, however the Pelicans failed to get a deal for him completed. This year’s draft might be the best place to move him, depending on what teams would be willing to give up for him. One thing is true, a point guard of his talent level will have plenty of possible suitors willing to move picks to get a sure-thing prospect.

Other players such as Austin Rivers could be moved at cheaper prices. With the cluster of guards the Pelicans have, Rivers might not be in the long term future of the Pelicans and moving him could slide the Pelicans a decent pick they could use on a player they plan to fit into the rotation with a bigger need. Rivers has shown signs of possible potential, and that might be enough for a team to take a gamble on an NBA ready player instead of a draft prospect.

The Pelicans also might look to this deep draft to fill the need at small forward. Al Faroq-Aminu might decided to sign with someone else, and the next person on the depth chart is Luke Babbitt, meaning the Pelicans could use an upgrade. With a draft loaded in the late first round and early second round with players such as TJ Warren, Kyle Anderson, Cleanthony Early and Glen Robinson III, the Pelicans could fill a big hole by making a calculated and low risk move into the draft.

With this being talked about as one of the deepest drafts this league has seen, there will be a lot of buzz around who gets which prospects this season, and while New Orleans might not be in the mix right now, a deal at the deadline could completely change the long term outlook of this team. So while the draft may seem like an afterthought to a good portion of Pelicans fans, this draft could very well make a huge impact on the upcoming season.

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Tags: New Orleans Pelicans

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