With the NBA Draft just weeks away, Wiz of Awes will be doing a mock draft, which we’ll break down each pick for every lottery team, including the Washington Wizards. (Completed Mock Draft: Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns)
6) New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Basic Stats: 11.9 PPG, 7.8 REB, 1.0 AST, 2.1 BLK
There are a lot of rebuilding teams in the NBA which don’t necessarily have a direction as to where they’re taking their team, but the New Orleans Pelicans have made it clear that they will try revitalizing their club through the draft, all while having some leeway financially.
With Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon running the backcourt, the Pelicans won’t need much help from the guard position towards the future, even though Indiana’s Victor Oladipo could possibly be their selection. The Pelicans have established a nice young core, but last years number one overall pick, Anthony Davis, clearly stands out. Unlike many of his counterparts, and his fellow Kentucky Wildcat Nerlens Noel who is projected to get selected first overall in a couple weeks, Davis is able to do virtually everything on both sides of the floor. At just 20 years old, Davis has already established himself as one of the best young big men in the NBA, averaging nearly 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He has the shooting touch to stretch the floor a bit, but his craftiness around the basket and tenacity defensively is what ultimately sets him apart from the rest of the league.
With that said, I think it’ll make most sense to pair Davis up with another legitimate big man in their frontcourt, possibly creating the best young duo in the league. Maryland’s Alex Len could probably make an impact right out of the gate, since he has the size to match up with virtually every forward/center in the NBA.
Anthony Davis doesn’t have the frame to play center, so having a guy like Alex Len step in to fill the void, while moving Davis down to his natural position could cause his game to expand even more. Both Len and Davis are well rounded big men, but Len would ultimately take more time to develop. Ryan Anderson would still be on the roster, which gives the Pelicans freedom to develop Len without necessarily disrupting the flow of things. Len has shown some back to the basket ability, but his ability to become a decent pick-and-pop center could also play a factor in his selection. We’ve seen guys like Roy Hibbert dominate their opponents due to their size and offensive ability, and I think Len could possibly do the same. Even though he is a offensive oriented player, his size will make him a perfect compliment to Davis’ outstanding game.
Although Robin Lopez did a solid job this past season, Len has a much higher ceiling and will probably end up becoming a much better player. The Ukrainian big man suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle, which will cause him to miss all pre-draft workouts. If this does hurt his stock, he could possibly be available when the time arrives for the Pelicans to pick, making this a not so farfetched scenario.
Even though NBA teams are starting to display smaller lineups, having a “Twin-Towers” in the frontcourt could possibly separate the Pelicans from the rest of the league in the near future. They’ve done a great job forming a foundation for their rebuild, but they also have some financial flexibility going forward. It’ll be tough for the Pelicans to make a wrong decision come June 27th, but like most lottery teams, they’ll likely take the best player available.
Is that Alex Len? Well, he certainly thinks so.