New Orleans Pelicans: the value of the 6th pick


The New Orleans Pelicans don’t have the 6th pick quite yet, but they have the 6th best odds. How much is that worth exactly?

As you may know, the Pelicans aren’t guaranteed the 6th pick in the draft. They could end up with a pick that’s worse, or a pick that’s better. They simply have the 6th best odds in the draft.

How good are those odds exactly?

Well, having the 6th worst record in the league means you probably aren’t getting the first pick in the draft. The Pelicans currently have just a 6.3% chance at wining the lottery, which means they shouldn’t be banking on a miracle on draft night.

Adding in the 2nd and 3rd picks, the Pelicans are looking at a fairly respectable 21.5% chance at landing a top three pick. They still shouldn’t be hoping for a miracle, but the idea that they could end up with a top three pick isn’t out of the question.

The odds strongly suggest that one of the five teams ahead of the Pelicans will win the lottery, in which case it’s highly likely the Pelicans are looking at exactly the 6th pick in the draft come lottery night.

Since the 6th pick is the most probable outcome for the Pelicans on draft night (by a huge margin), I’m going to discuss exactly how valuable that pick is. studied the production of each draft pick slot over the past few years and averaged them out. They found that the average 6th pick in the draft had career averages of 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per 36 minutes a game.

If those numbers don’t jump out at you, remember that they are career averages, not peak averages. The 1st pick in the draft only netted about 17-8-3 under the same calculations, despite putting up better stats during certain peak seasons. A player who averages 14-6-2 over their career is likely to peak as about a 18-7-3 kind of player, just like a player who averages 17-8-3 over their career might peak at 21-9-4 (a reasonable prime for a 1st overall pick to have).

To put it in anecdotal terms, they calculated that a player drafted with the 6th pick had a 25% at becoming a “star,” a 30% chance at becoming “solid,” and a 30% chance at becoming a “role player,” with a small remaining percentage accounting for players who end up as complete busts.

This, combined with the average career production numbers, suggest that the Pelicans are probably looking at drafting a solid starting level player.

While they don’t have a great shot at finding a star, they are very likely to draft a Nic Batum or Darren Collison type of player who can put up something like 16-5-4 over the course of a few peak seasons. Based on these estimates, it makes sense for the Pelicans to draft based on positional need.

If Ingram or Simmons is available at 6, then go ahead and grab them up. If not, they should draft a player who fits a clear positional need on their roster, since they are likely to find a solid player who can start at that position for a solid half decade. Once again, they won’t draft a star, but it’s more than likely they find a solid core piece to cover one of their gaping positions.

This means most power forwards, centers, and pure point guards are less likely to receive the pick. Players like Dunn or Murray could still work since they are able to play both guard positions, but a player like Demetrius Jackson (who can only play as a pure PG) doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re drafting based on need.

When you have an empty roster, or a top three pick, it makes sense to simply draft the best player available. When you already have a few core players and a pick in the middle of the lottery, it makes sense to draft a safer option and try to find a solid starter who fits a positional need.

It’s entirely possible the Pelicans get a top three pick (21.5%), or that they simply draft a star player with the 6th (25%), but the odds strongly suggest they’re looking at a reasonably talented starter instead.

Given the fact that rookie players are on cheap multi-year contracts and can learn the system without having to overturn bad habits, a solid starting rotation player isn’t a bad thing for the Pelicans to be looking forward to on draft night.

Odds are, we’re looking at a small step in the right direction.