Pelicans draft: A defensive prospect for the 2nd round

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Peyton Watson #23 of the UCLA Bruins blocks a shot by Bennedict Mathurin (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Peyton Watson #23 of the UCLA Bruins blocks a shot by Bennedict Mathurin (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have the 41st and 52nd picks in the 2022 NBA Draft and hope to find another overlooked talent as they did last season with Herbert Jones.

Jones made an impact defensively from day one and worked his way into the starting lineup, making All-Rookie and getting some mention for the All-Defensive team.

With three scorers in Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum, it makes sense for the Pelicans to look for more long, athletic defenders like Jones to complement them.

One prospect from UCLA has the defensive upside to get a look from the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round.

Pelicans draft: Peyton Watson’s strengths and weaknesses

Peyton Watson is a 6-foot-7 wing from UCLA, whose numbers are not going to impress you. He scored just 3.3 points per game, adding 2.9 rebounds and only played 12.7 minutes on average in his freshman season.

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His shooting splits are terrible and Watson has a lot of work to do on his game on the offensive end. But he also has a 7-foot wingspan, is a good rebounder and can make plays from the wing.

He’s very athletic, is a good cutter, runs the floor well and uses his length to get steals and blocks as you can see in these highlights. Watson certainly looks the part, as he stands out athletically and has an incredible wingspan.

He has the tools to be an elite defender, but is definitely a raw prospect who probably won’t be able to contribute right away.

2022 NBA Draft: Peyton Watson’s fit on the New Orleans Pelicans

Given that the Pelicans already have 14 guys under contract and also own the 8th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, it’s hard to imagine either of their second-round picks making the full-time roster or rotation in their first season.

So taking a flyer on a guy with the physical tools to thrive who needs time to develop makes sense.

I see Watson as a guy who could eventually come off the bench and bring defensive energy, highlight reel dunks in transition, making an impact without needing the ball in his hands.

With four players in the starting five averaging at least 17 points and eating up most of the shots, the Pelicans need guys around them who are versatile defenders so they an adjust to some of the giant and small ball lineups they will see in the Western Conference.

Watson has the tools to be an impact defender, so he will be on the Pelicans’ radar if he is still there when they choose with one of their picks in the second round.

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