C, Kentucky Wildcats, 2013 (No. 6)
I remember this draft selection like it was yesterday. The recently rebranded Pelicans decided to take their second-straight big man out of the University of Kentucky in as many drafts. Nobody questioned taking Anthony Davis No. 1 overall in 2012. However, the Nerlens Noel selection No. 6 overall in 2013 was beyond head-scratching.
Noel was the best player on a very mediocre Wildcats team. While Davis led Big Blue Nation to its most recent national title, the 2013 Wildcats failed to make the NCAA tournament. It didn’t help that Noel tore his ACL during conference play. A season-ending injury and an issue with fit alongside Davis made this selection strange to say the least. It had to do with Nerlens in Nawlins, right? No, it turns out he was getting traded on draft day.
New Orleans was looking to upgrade its backcourt and was able to land Eastern Conference All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday in this draft-day deal. Holiday has had his issues with health since playing for the Pelicans, but he was a huge part in both playoff teams of the Davis era in the Big Easy. One could argue that Holiday is good enough to be the third-best player on a final four team in the NBA after Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Noel would go through The Process in Philadelphia. He and fellow frontcourt fiend Jahlil Okafor made for an extremely wonky fit for the 76ers. Noel would miss his entire rookie season due to the ACL tear. He would play his first three seasons with the 76ers before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks before he hit free agency. Overall, Holiday has proven to be a success for the Pelicans, while Noel went through the worst part of The Process in Philadelphia. It’s not like the rival Mavericks are any bit good entering 2018-19 either.