Tyreke Evans

Tyreke Evans is one of a few tradeable assets the Pelicans could leverage for a trade into the lottery.

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve taken a look at who the Pelicans might target if they remain at #56 on Thursday night, and who they could target if they move into the second half of the first round. For our final pre-draft installment, let’s take a look at who the Pelicans could target if they move all the way up into the lottery. While moving into the top-5 seems nearly impossible, all the teams drafting 6-14 have made it known that they are open to moving their picks for somebody who can help them win immediately. Unlike those in the top-5, every team drafting 6 and later has their eyes set on the playoffs next season.

How the Pelicans Can Get Into the Lottery

Before we get to the lottery draft targets, let’s take a look at what it could take for the Pelicans to actually get into the lottery. As of now, the Pelicans have only 6 tradeable players (AD, Jrue, Tyreke, Ryno, Gordon, and Pondexter) because they can’t offer up someone expected to hit the free agent market (even restricted FA’s) in a trade. Technically, Toney Douglas and his non-guaranteed contract could be traded too, but that would only be to make salaries work.

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Anthony Davis is without question off the block, but any other player could be traded if the price was right. It is hard to gauge the trade value for Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson  right now, in large part due to their injury issues over the past two seasons. If healthy, these two would be highly sought after due to their skill set and contracts, but any team trading for them would be taking on a risk because of health concerns. Quincy Pondexter is an interesting piece because he played well for New Orleans last season and is on a terrific contract, and Tyreke Evans probably has the most value of anybody not named AD on the team because of his production and his ability to stay healthy the last few years. Or at least, relatively healthy when compared to the others. Finally, Eric Gordon has more value than ever now that he is an expiring contract and is one of the best shooters in the league.

With that in mind, let’s look at some deals that could possibly move the Pelicans up into the lottery.

1. Tyreke Evans for Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson, and the #7 pick

I don’t know if the hiring of Mike Malone makes Denver more or less likely to want Tyreke, but Malone is familiar with him as is new Senior VP Pete D’Alessandro. If Denver moves Ty Lawson, as expected, they will have an opening for a lead ball handler who can play with pace in the Mile High City. Denver gets to unload two of their undesired contracts in addition to acquiring a guy who could be their best player from day one. It is also checked by Charleston Personal Injury Attorneys | Joye Law Firm.

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2. Ryan Anderson and a future 1st Round Pick for Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes, and the #9 pick

The Bobcats are desperate for shooting and could turn around and flip two undesired contracts and their pick for the best stretch four in the game when healthy. Anderson fits perfectly next to Al Jefferson — he was a top target. according to Hornet’s blog Queen City Hoops. And even in the seemingly unlikely event that these two don’t work out, they are both free agents next summer and Michael Jordan can clear house and have over $65 million heading into the 2016 free agent class.

3. Tyreke Evans for Josh McRoberts, Chris Anderson, and the #10 pick

Dwayne Wade has hinted that he is leaving Miami, so the Heat could hedge their bets and/or create some leverage by bringing in Tyreke Evans. The Heat woul unload two contracts that aren’t so great and give up the 10th pick to do so, while the Pelicans would get a guy who makes Ryno expendable and a backup center who can be a spot starter if needed to go along with a pick that could land them a future starter.

4. Eric Gordon for Alec Burks and the #12 pick

How ironic would it be if Eric Gordon was traded because another team wanted a guy who was healthy at the two-guard position? The Jazz gave Alec Burks a contract extension last summer, but 27 games in he suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Perhaps the Jazz want to get out of that contract before the extension kicks in, and they also prefer a knock down shooter on a team that needs spacing badly. The Pelicans, meanwhile, take a chance on Burks and look for shooting with the 12th pick.

5. Ryan Anderson and a future 1st rounder for Steve Novak, Perry Jones III, and the #14 pick

It is no secret that the Thunder are going all in this year to convince Kevin Durant to stay. Anderson would give them a shooter that could space the floor for both Durant and Westbrook, and whose defensive limitations could be covered by Ibaka. Imagine a lineup with Westbrook, Morrow, Durant, Anderson and Ibaka . How do you defend that? Meanwhile, the Pelicans see if they can get anything out of Perry Jones, get a poor man’s Ryan Anderson in Novak for a year, and try to find a future piece with the 14th pick.

Lottery Targets

So those are a few ways the Pelicans could potentially end up with a lottery pick. Now let’s take a look at who they could target if that happens.

Justise Winslow, F, Duke

Justise Winslow (DraftExpress Profile) is a little undersized for the new-age small forward at 6’6″, but outside of that he is the ideal prospect for the Pelicans and exactly who they need on the wing. Winslow is a terrific defender who can defend wings on the perimeter, switch onto point guards, or even do well against small ball four’s. He is already a solid 230 pounds of muscle (just 5% body fat) with a nearly 7-foot wingspan. He can get to the rim and finish, he rarely turns the ball over, is terrific in transition, and can stroke the 3-ball (41.4%). At worst, he is a very good defender who can be a spot up threat. At best, he is a stronger Jimmy Butler. For the Pelicans, he could be a three next to Anthony Davis for the next 10 years, and has the versatility to slide over to the four in a small ball lineup. There might not be a better fit for the Pelicans in this entire draft. Plain and simple.

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Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Some have fantasized about the Pelicans adding Tyson Chandler this summer, and while I agree that it would be a good short term fit, I worry about the fact that Tyson already has 15 years of wear and tear in this league. But what if you could get a 21 year old version of Tyson Chandler who can grow with AD for the next ten years? Willie Cauley-Stein’s (DraftExpress Profile) offense is raw — basically he projects as a lob guy and a garbage man off the glass early in his career — but with the high-usage guys already on this Pelicans roster, that’s all this team really needs. Where Cauley-Stein excels, however, is on the defensive end where he can use his tremendous physical skills to block shots, deflect passes, and control the glass. He can also hedge, switch, or ICE on pick and rolls, allowing the Pelicans to run just about any kind of system with him and AD on the floor.

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Mario Hezonja, G/F, International

Since arriving in 2011, Demps has had his eyes on a few “chuckers” or “irrational confidence guys.” He pursued Jamal Crawford, Gary Neal, and J.R. Smith in free agency. He contemplated a trade for Gerald Green, and he drafted Austin Rivers with the 10th pick in the 2012 draft. Demps obviously likes guys with confidence and who are willing to take any shot at any time, and Mario Hezonja (DraftExpress Profile) matches that profile. Hezonja has drawn comparisons to everybody from J.R. Smith to Kobe Bryant — not something you tend to hear about European players. Also appealing about Hezonja is that he has been playing with professionals for two years now, and has accepted and thrived as a role player, which is what he would be asked to do his first few years in New Orleans. Long term, though, he could be what Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis were for Dwight Howard those few years in Orlando, but with the ability to provide much better defense than either.

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Emmanuel Mudiay, G, China

Emmanuel Mudiay (DraftExpress Profile) could be my favorite player in this whole draft, and while he still needs to work on his shooting, I personally believe he can be the best player from this draft when we look back 15 years from now. With the way the NBA is going, dynamic guards are just getting more and more valuable, especially guards with size who can also defend multiple positions. Mudiay stands 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan and is now a solid 200 pounds. He doesn’t have Russell Westbrook’s level of explosiveness, but comparing him to a quick guard like John Wall wouldn’t be a stretch. He also seems to have a basketball IQ that could be on par with the top level guys a few years from now, and that helps him on both ends of the court. With the Pelicans, he could play on the ball or off and cover either guard position, and even some smaller three’s. The Pelican’s transition offense would be unstoppable, as would the pick and roll game in the half court when they spread the floor. Over time, a Mudiay-Holiday backcourt could be the best in the league, and that might be worth giving up a current asset or two for.

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Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona

Stanley Johnson (DraftExpress Profile) is the kind of guy you play a lot of ‘if’ games with, because if he turns it on, you could be looking at a Paul George/Danny Granger hybrid, but if he doesn’t, he could be another one of those athletic wing busts who never quite live up to their potential (looking at you JuJu and Chief). For size and strength, Johnson could be one of the few guys who can go toe-to-toe right now with Lebron. He is long and thick with supreme athleticism and quickness, and seems to understand the game on the defensive end. But he disappears from time to time and his overall offensive game is raw, to say the least. But the same could have been said for Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard in college too. It comes down to how much Johnson wants it and how much a staff believes they can get out of him. With Demps compiling such an impressive staff under Gentry, it might be wise to take a gamble on a guy with such a high ceiling.

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Other Possibilities

Devin Booker, G, Kentucky — Many believe that Booker is the best pure shooter in this draft, and he could be our Klay Thompson if Gentry develops him properly. The concern with Booker is that he doesn’t give you anything else at an above average level, and some believe that FT% is a better indicator of shooting prowess than 3-point% in college, and Booker was just good in that department (82%), not great.

Myles Turner, F/C, Texas — A Turner/Davis front line would provide plenty of rim protection on the defensive end and outside shooting on the offensive end. Turner had his share of ups and downs at Texas, but some believe he has All-Star potential if he gets in shape and gets high-level coaching in the NBA.

Frank Kaminsky, F/C, Wisconsin — Some may compare Kaminsky to Ryan Anderson, but I think he’s more like Channing Frye. He’s a knock down shooter when left open and can help run an offense from the high post — something Gentry loves from his big men. His one elite skill and his high IQ could get ‘Frank the Tank’ minutes right away.

Should the Pelicans make a move and get into the lottery on Thursday? Let us know what you think in the comments!