Pelicans draft: Who New Orleans should take if they land the #1 pick

Jabari Smith #10 of the Auburn Tigers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Jabari Smith #10 of the Auburn Tigers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have a 99.5 percent chance of getting a top-10 pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2022 NBA Draft.

They have a six percent chance of landing the #1 pick overall, same odds they had when they lucked out and got the pick that turned into Zion Williamson.

While it’s a long shot, it could happen, and the Pelicans would have a ton of options if it did. They could certainly trade back, pick up some future assets and probably still land an impact player.

Most experts believe that three players (Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith) have set themselves apart from the rest, so if the Pelicans did luck out and land the #1 pick and decided to keep it, which one of these guys is the best fit?

Pelicans draft: Jabari Smith is the best fit in New Orleans

Any of the three top prospects would be welcome in New Orleans, as they all have skillsets that would benefit any NBA team.

To me, Banchero seems too redundant with what the Pelicans already have, as he is a ball dominant forward who likes to work at the rim and in the mid-range.

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Holmgren would make a ton of sense, as he would not only help the Pelicans’ 3-point shooting (27th in the NBA) but would beef up their rim protection, though the Pels were 10th in the league this season in points in the paint allowed.

That leaves Jabari Smith, the 6-foot-10 forward out of Auburn, who is the best fit for the New Orleans Pelicans in my opinion.

The Pels need players who can stretch the floor, and Smith can certainly do that, as he hit 42 percent from long range on good volume. The Pelicans were 27th in 3-point percentage this season, so they need a guy who can knock them down.

The Pelicans are also building a position-less team full of long, athletic guys who can defend multiple spots. Smith is a good defender on the perimeter and would give the Pels another guy in that mold.

I’ve often said that athletic 3-and-D players are the ideal types to put around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram and Smith is the best 3-and-D player in this draft.

Let’s hope this is a problem that the Pelicans end up having, as adding another top pick to this already-loaded roster would make New Orleans contenders for the foreseeable future.

Next. Easy and not-so-easy offseason decisions for the Pelicans. dark