Pelicans draft: A 1st-round talent who could fall to the 2nd round

The New Orleans Pelicans have two picks in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft and hope to find an overlooked talent as they did last season with Herbert Jones.

There are some interesting names in the Pels’ range, including one guy who was not expected to be there in Patrick Baldwin Jr. from Milwaukee.

He was touted as a top-5 prospect coming into college, but chose to go to a mid-major to play for his father, had a pretty terrible season and then got hurt after only playing 11 games.

But he has big-time potential and was once thought of as a sure-fire top-10 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Pelicans can swing for the fences in this draft, as they already have a young roster coming off a playoff appearance and they are getting Zion Williamson back.

Patrick Baldwin Jr. has a lot a boom-or-bust potential and is the type of prospect the Pels should take a chance on if he falls to them in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Pelicans draft: Patrick Baldwin Jr’s strengths and weaknesses

One of the reasons Baldwin’s stock has dropped so much is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He missed almost his entire senior year of high school with an ankle injury and then re-injured it in college after only playing 11 games.

There are questions about how this will affect his mobility and athleticism in the long term, and the Pelicans have a few injury-prone players already in case you haven’t heard.

But Baldwin Jr. wouldn’t be expected to contribute right away (or at all) as a second-round pick, so the Pelicans can take a risk that they probably wouldn’t take with their top-10 pick.

Baldwin Jr. has great size for the forward position, as he was measured at just over 6-foot-9 at the Draft Combine with a 7-1 wingspan.

He has flashed elite shooting ability, though you wouldn’t know it from his college numbers, but he shot well in the Nike EYBL in 2019 and has a smooth stroke with little wasted motion, the type of shot that usually translates.

He can hit the step-back, rise up over defenders or come off screens, as you can see in these highlights.

He put up 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in his 11 college games, including terrible shooting splits and just 26.6 percent from 3-point range on 5.8 attempts per game. It’s hard to get a gauge of his talent from 11 games in the Horizon League, but this is a guy who has the look and potential skill set of a 1st-round pick.

It may take him some time to develop, but a guy with his size that can shoot 3-pointers is a valuable commodity, especially for a team like the Pelicans that was near the bottom of the league in long-range shooting accuracy.

Baldwin Jr. is a complete roll of the dice, but so are all players in the second round.