The New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets) had a terrible draft in 2006, would 2007 see them turn things around? Or would they continue their scouting woes?
Even if their record didn’t reflect it in the 2006-07 season, the New Orleans Pelicans were establishing a team identity and continuing on the correct path to success. They added in Tyson Chandler in the offseason who bolstered their defense, and the duo of Chris Paul and David West were emerging amongst the best tandems in the league.
They missed the playoffs for the third straight season, but their record improved for the third straight season as well (39-43). Entering the 2007 NBA Draft they owned the 13th overall pick, let’s see how they fared.
Much like the previous year, this was very much so a top-heavy draft. Which meant: owning a pick in the latter of the lottery made it increasingly difficult to find value. Portland won the lottery and had the first overall pick, in which they made an all-time terrible blunder (unfortunately for the organization, this wasn’t the first time it happened…take a look at the ’84 Draft then come back here).
Portland decided against selecting Kevin Durant and went with Greg Oden. No matter how you pitch this, it’s impossible to defend this pick. Sure, building around a center was the traditional way of thinking—but this was Kevin Durant. I mean the guy averaged 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.9 steals on 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from three in his lone year at Texas. Greg Oden had a leg that was shorter than the other…I don’t understand GM’s thinking sometimes.
But you’re not here for miscues in the draft, oh wait, being a Pelicans fan you probably are. With their 13th selection, they went with Julian Wright out of the University of Kansas. Wright played two seasons for Kansas, and in his second campaign averaged 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and better than a steal and block per game on 55 percent shooting.
The Pelicans could have used a defensive-minded wing, but his three-point shot really prevented him from being a viable “3 and D” type of player. He only connected on 3 three-point field goals in 71 career college games.
He played three seasons in New Orleans, never seeing more than 14.3 minutes of action. But there is a positive here, Wright was ultimately traded to Toronto for Marco Belinelli. Ironically, Belinelli went 18th overall in the same draft as Wright, just had a much better outcome in his time spent in the Big Easy and the remainder of his career.
In the second round of the ’07 Draft, they went with Adam Haluska out of Iowa. He never played a game in the NBA, so that’s that. Marc Gasol would go 48th overall in the Draft, but who really knew his career would culminate the way it did. Ramon Sessions went 56th, he could have been the backup point guard they were looking for. However, it’s easy to look back and say who they should have or shouldn’t have selected.
Despite a variety of draft woes, the Pelicans were becoming increasingly more competitive with each given season—they just got no assistance in the draft, which would be a significant factor in their demise.