What should the New Orleans Pelicans do with the 14th pick?

Dariq Whitehead, Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Dariq Whitehead, Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

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 does end up being the case, the question now becomes: how should they use that pick? To try and answer that question, we asked for insight from draft analyst Matt Powers of Swish Theory. Here is what he said:

"I would recommend the Pelicans take a long look at Dariq Whitehead with pick number 14. Yes, they have no shortage of wings on the roster, with veteran and rookie depth at the position specializing in defense, distance shooting, or just plain toolsy. But Whitehead gives you a swing in a different direction as a potential high-level player both on and off the ball while also hanging in on defense.Whitehead’s freshman season at Duke was painful for anyone familiar with his game prior, with not one, but two leg injuries which clearly were still not healed whenever he played. While not a nuclear athlete, Dariq is savvy in maximizing what he has. He has shown the ability to adapt time and time again, from more of a slasher/connector at first to then adding a devastating pull-up jumper as perhaps the best player in high school hoops.Whitehead has easy potential to be a top-eight player in the class should he recover properly. With all kinds of plug-and-play depth already on the roster, I like the idea of swinging for the fences and being patient with Whitehead. The value of a big guard who can shoot off of movement and spot-ups while also being able to pull up is always high, but particularly so in today’s game. Whitehead adds to that with smart (if not particularly manipulative) passing and smart (though not the quickest) defense. As an added bonus, the upside could fit into any direction the Pelicans would want to take."

We’ve written manifestos on this website about the Pelicans’ lack of perimeter shooting. As a reminder, in 2022-23, New Orleans was 23rd in 3-point makes (11.0) and 29th in 3-point attempts (30.1). They also rostered only four players who have been league-average or higher on wide-open 3-point percentage in the last three seasons.

With this in mind, Powers’ counseling them to use their pick on Whitehead makes perfect sense, as Whitehead shot 42.9% from three on 3.5 attempts per game last season. And as Powers outlined, he offers a great deal of versatility as a shooter as well. Could he be the player the team turns to with their 14th overall pick?

To learn more about Dariq Whitehead and the other prospects we’ve mentioned on this website, be sure to check out Swish Theory’s 2023 NBA Draft Guide

To see what other experts think the Pelicans should do with the pick (if they keep it), be sure to check out our posts featuring Bryce Simon and the Upside Swings crew

Next. 5 trades for the Pelicans to move up and draft Scoot Henderson. dark