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).
If that is the case, we need to do our due diligence as a website and make sure that we adequately mention what prospects the Pelicans may be looking at with the 14th overall pick. To do this, we’ve asked various experts and looked at different mock drafts to see where the temperature is at with the situation.
In those endeavors, we’ve noticed a common theme of names like Gradey Dick, Keyonte George, Dereck Lively II, Jordan Hawkins, Kobe Bufkin, Dariq Whitehead, and Jalen Hood-Schifino. However, in his final mock draft of the cycle, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor pulled out a name we had not seen them tied to before. That player would be Alabama freshman big man Noah Clowney. Here is what O’Connor had to say about the prediction:
"“Clowney is the first big surprise of this mock draft. In recent days my sources have connected him with mid-first-round teams such as the Pelicans. Any team that drafts him will get a quality two-way big man who can flourish in multiple schemes and play adaptable roles on offense as a screener or a shooter.”"
O’Connor also classified him as a “versatile big” and said that he has “shades of Wendell Carter Jr.,” which would be a massive win for the Pelicans value-wise at the 14th overall pick.
Ideally, Clowney could help remedy the Pelicans’ rim protection woes (they were dead-last in opponent rim accuracy last season, per Cleaning the Glass). According to Ken Pom’s database, Clowney’s 3.4% block percentage put him in the 89th percentile in the SEC last year.
On top of that, he shot 28.3% on 3.3 3-point attempts per game. That isn’t a great sign (especially when you see his 64.9% free throw percentage), but there is a chance that he could morph into a stretch big man over time. After all, he doesn’t even 19 until the middle of July (July 14th).
This is definitely an outside-the-box prediction considering what we have seen/heard so far, but it will be interesting to monitor this Clowney/Pelicans reporting heading into tomorrow.