For the last few seasons, one of the biggest talking points around the New Orleans Pelicans has been about the draft.
After trading away Anthony Davis and then Jrue Holiday for a haul of players and picks, the Pelicans are sitting on a pile of draft assets.
Draft picks are the most valuable commodity in the league when trying to make a trade for a star player, as most teams who are tearing down their roster are looking for assets that will help them rebuild.
The draft also offers a fanbase some hope, and is the perpetual carrot dangled in front of a donkey when it comes to keeping fans engaged.
The New Orleans Pelicans moved draft picks in the Jonas Valanciunas and Devonte’ Graham trades, so their stockpile is dwindling, but they still have enough in the coffers to make a big move for a star.
How many future 1st-round draft picks do the New Orleans Pelicans have?
Even though the Pels had to give up two first rounders to acquire Valanciunas and Graham, they are still sitting pretty when it comes to 1st-round draft picks. Here is how it breaks down by season:
- 2022 – The Pels keep their own pick 1-14 and send it to the Hornets if it is 15-30; they also get the Lakers pick if it falls in the top 10.
- 2023 – Own or swap for Lakers
- 2024 – Own or swap for Bucks; They also get the Lakers picks unless the Pels defer
- 2025 – Own; Lakers if the Pels deferred the year before; Bucks
- 2026 – Own or swap for Bucks
- 2027 – Own; Bucks
- 2028 – Own
Some of the key details of these picks: If the Pelicans don’t end up sending Charlotte their 2022 pick (meaning they finished in the lottery) then it turns into a second-round pick the following season.
This is big, as the Pelicans are still a very young team and could definitely finish outside of the playoffs, which means the Graham deal would only cost them a second-rounder.
The Pelicans will have multiple picks in 2024 (unless they defer the Lakers’ pick), 2025, and 2027 with the potential to have three first-round picks in 2025 depending on what happened the year before.
The Pels are counting on the Bucks and Lakers being worse by then and these picks could end up being very valuable in a future trade.
Even if the Pels don’t use them to trade for a star, they are going to get plenty of chances to grab one in the draft, so they are set up for the future when it comes to picks.
Like I said, picks are nothing more than hope until they are conveyed into players so all of these draft assets will be meaningless unless the Pelicans use them the right way.