Pelicans draft: latest mock projects team to make win-now move

Keyonte George, Baylor Bears. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Keyonte George, Baylor Bears. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Our flagship NBA website, The Step Back, recently released the fifth update of their 2023 NBA Mock Draft. In this iteration, they projected the New Orleans Pelicans to own the tenth pick in the draft. And with that pick, they predicted the team would select Baylor freshman guard Keyonte George.

In the mock, Christopher Kline wrote, “[e]nter Keyonte George, one of the most explosive scorers in college basketball who profiles as an instant-impact player at the next level. The most immediately translatable skill for George is his 3-point shooting. He’s one of the most versatile shooters in the class. Off movement, pulling up, standing still, it doesn’t matter. George will make the defense pay.”

Like Kevin O’Connor’s recent prediction that the team would select Gradey Dick, Kline has accurately identified the team’s need for outside shooting. On the season, the Pelicans rank 24th in made three-pointers (10.9), 28th in three-point attempts (30.5), and 19th in three-point percentage (35.7%).

While he’s having a bit of a down year as a shooter (33.8% from downtown), he’s also handling a ton of volume (he averages nearly seven three-point attempts per game).

A more holistic measure of a player’s outside shooting is Cerebro Sports’ 3-Point Efficiency (3PE) metric (which we explain in more granular detail in this post here). According to that measure, George ranks in the 96th percentile in the entire nation this season. This is a strong indicator that his three-point percentage at Baylor is the product of a down season and that he should be a reliable shooter at the next level.

Kline also lauded his on-ball creation ability and defensive utility for his position. This means that if defenses try to run him off the three-point line with an aggressive closeout, he can counter by attacking them off the dribble. Plus, when one of their core offensive pieces is on the bench or injured (a common theme for Pelicans’ players), George could theoretically be counted on to buoy the offense in their absence.

His defensive ability also means that he (hopefully) won’t be hunted by opposing offenses, which is always a huge plus, especially at the guard position (the position that tends to have the weakest defenders).

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