The New Orleans Pelicans find themselves in an enviable position in the 2013 Draft. Not an enviable draft position — we're still not sure if anyone has a great draft position in this draft, even the Cavaliers — but a great place to build a franchise from the ground up.
With Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez on board, plus Monty Williams installed as coach, that's a solid young core, and they can add to it with a Top 10 pick. Hey, maybe even Austin Rivers can make something out of himself.
The Pelicans' only pick in the NBA draft is in at No. 6. They were also slated for the No. 35 pick as well, but sent that to Philadelphia in the three-way trade with the Grizzlies for Marreese Speights. The Pelicans don't have a tremendous track record of success in the draft, especially when selecting in the mid-lottery. Since 2006, they've had five selections No. 13 or higher. Outside of Davis, they've taken Hilton Armstrong, Julian Wright, Cole Aldrich and, yes, Austin Rivers.
Point guard: Greivis Vasquez, Austin Rivers, Brian Roberts
Power Forward: Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson
Center: Robin Lopez (NGC), Jason Smith (NGC)
The Pelicans only have five players under contract for next season in Davis, Gordon, Vasquez, Rivers and Anderson. Henry and Aminu are both unrestricted free agents and clear lottery busts to this point. At $5.1 million, it's hard to imagine the Pelicans not picking up Lopez's contract, and the same goes for Miller at the very least, who played decently and costs less than $1 million.
Scoring, scoring, scoring. If Eric Gordon's knee holds up, he's an elite scorer, but he hasn't been healthy for two years, so the Pelicans know better than to count on that. Vasquez is a talented passer and improving three-point shooter, but he's not quick enough to penetrate reliably or athletic enough to finish at the rim over bigger guys. Davis is still raw offensively, and it's hard to know what Lopez will do on that end on a given night.
The Pelicans need some help on the perimeter, and that help needs to have a solid outside stroke or very good ballhandling ability. Lots of folks have pegged them as taking a point guard, but a wing seems just as likely, depending on who is available.
New Orleans worked out Trey Burke (scouting report) and Michael Carter-Williams (scouting report), considered to be the two best point guards available in the draft, and the Pelicans selecting either with the sixth pick wouldn't shock anyone.
They also interviewed Alex Len (scouting report), who would be an intriguing selection. Len would turn New Orleans into an elite defensive team slmost immediately and could form quite the Twin Towers scenario with Anthony Davis.
The question, as SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell writes, is what the Pelicans think of Vasquez. If they think he'll be the starter going forward, Len or another big man could be the pick. If not, it's hard seeing them pick anyone besides Burke or MCW.