The 2023 NBA Draft is just one day away. And while there have been some rumblings about the New Orleans Pelicans potentially pulling off a massive trade to move up in the draft for G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, there is also a good chance that they just stand pat and keep their original first-round pick (the 14th overall pick in the draft).
Heading into the draft, the Pelicans have three main roster deficiencies that they could attempt to address: rim protection, shooting, and rim pressure (outside of Zion Williamson). In The Ringer’s final mock draft, they projected our Pelicans to attack that first issue by selecting Alabama freshman big man Noah Clowney.
Meanwhile, in ESPN’s final mock draft of the cycle – put together by Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo – they had the Pelicans attempting to shore up that second area of weakness by selecting UConn sharpshooter Jordan Hawkins. Here (subscription required) is what they had to say about the projection:
"“Chatter surrounding the Pelicans’ potential move toward the top of the draft for Henderson has died down in recent days, with the Hornets appearing unlikely to deal the No. 2 pick, the Blazers listening to a range of callers for No. 3 and New Orleans seemingly uninterested in dealing Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram — the type of return moving up that high in this draft would likely require. The Pelicans could still look to move around in the draft on a smaller scale, but if they stay at No. 14, Hawkins’ deadeye movement shooting would immediately add a different dimension to their personnel on a roster already full of ball handlers. His experience level and valuable role might make him more appealing here than trying to develop a younger guard on a longer timeline. Hawkins could be off the board already, with Orlando and Toronto looking at him as an option, and if New Orleans were to pass, he likely won’t fall too far into the teens.” — Woo"
In his two years at UConn, Hawkins shot 37.6% on 5.7 3-point attempts per game – including 38.8% on 7.6 attempts per game during his sophomore season. On top of that, he was a career 87.2% free throw shooter in college. This matters because free throw shooting is one of the best context-independent measures of shooting we have publicly available to us.
As the team that finished 23rd in 3-point makes (11.0) and 29th in 3-point attempts (30.1) last season, the Pelicans could surely use Hawkins’ shooting prowess to space the floor for Williamson and Brandon Ingram next season.