With the early entry withdrawal deadline coming to pass on Wednesday, a handful of freshly updated 2021 NBA mock drafts were released this week.
For New Orleans, the focus appears to be on guards who could potentially replace Lonzo Ball, should he leave via restricted free agency. While the likes of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis could help cover Ball’s loss, adding to the depth could be an option.
The Rookie Wire’s Cody Taylor projected the Pelicans to select Connecticut guard James Bouknight:
“Bouknight was named to the All-Big East first team after averaging 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 15 games. In two years, Bouknight established himself as a strong scorer who can do so at all three levels. Last year, he became the first freshman in nine years to score 20 points in three straight contests. He has worked extensively on his shooting during the pre-draft process and, with some improvement, could be one of the top offensive players in the class.”
“Classic case of production vs. projection, which at a basic elemental level is what every NBA GM is tasked with. But with Mitchell, it seems like a compelling challenge. He was Baylor’s best player in the NCAA Tournament (13.5 points, 5.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals on 27-46 (58.7%) from 2 and 8-22 (36.4%) from 3) and the best defender in college basketball last season. Mitchell’s ceiling on defense in this draft class is top-three, while his floor is maybe No. 6 or No. 7. But offensively, his ceiling is maybe No. 10 at best, whereas his floor could be somewhere in the 30s. Can this continue in the NBA? Will Mitchell be able to have similar shooting success against much better defenders, bigger players, longer length and more complicated schemes? Was this past season a magnificent crescendo — the way so many guys used to do it — but his room to grow might be limited?”
NBA.com released a consensus mock draft in which they awarded points based on where players were drafted across 14 mock drafts and assigned the players to teams accordingly. The result for the Pelicans was landing Franz Wagner, another more familiar name that could complement Zion Williamson in the front court.
“Stretch 4 set to stretch the floor if he can extend range consistently beyond the arc; can slot within multiple offenses alongside strong creators.”
The interesting thing to note will be whether the Pelicans even keep their pick to add another young player to their team or look to trade it for a more impactful player.