College, NBA, NBA Draft, Overseas / Feb 13, 2013 / 12:00 pm

Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft: The 5 Best Fits For New Orleans

Cody Zeller

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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While they have showed steady improvement with last year’s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Hornets are back in the mix for a very high lottery pick. This is potentially the team’s last run at a high end lottery pick, so it is time to evaluate how they should draft come June.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know About The New Orleans Hornets (PELICANS!)?
Outside of a few tough choices (Al-Farouq Aminu, Robin Lopez and Jason Smith) the soon-to-be Pelicans have a future roster that consists of five players.

The cornerstones are Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis. They are joined by budding stars Ryan Anderson and Greivis Vasquez. Then there is lottery pick Austin Rivers. Right now, there is not a “need” that will put them over the hump; rather, they are a team that could realistically welcome in talent at any position.

As a team, they are improved on the defensive end, shoot the ball well, and have shown flashes of being a future playoff contender.

With coach Monty Williams, they have stripped down the roster and built from the ground up through the lottery and trades. Getting Gordon and Anderson via trades set them up with two guys capable of catching fire for 20-plus on any night. Davis and Vasquez are the engines on each side of the floor as Davis drives the defense and Vasquez drives the offense. Good things to come in the future of the Pelicans.

TWO: What Do They Need?
Either a wing that can make some plays on both ends of the floor or a center to solidify Davis and Anderson as full-time fours. There is no guarantee that the team will re-sign Aminu or Lopez or Smith, so they need to decide which position is most pertinent to replenish.

The team is 29th in the NBA in steals and 26th in forcing turnovers. Adding an athlete on the perimeter that can affect both of those categories would continue the team’s steady defensive improvement. Then again, this is the deepest draft in terms of fives in recent history, allowing the team to add a perfect complement to Davis, which would create a formidable duo in the paint.

THREE: Stock Rising
Typically the nation’s leading scorer is not a major NBA prospect, but Erick Green of Virginia Tech is trying to prove that wrong as he is inching closer and closer to being a legitimate first-round pick.

He is a combo guard that can score and distribute, but most importantly he is displaying his ability to play point this season knowing that in the NBA he won’t be given the liberties he has in college. That is paramount for young players, something that most never realize. Green has the skill and ability to play at the next level as a duel threat scorer and distributor. Keep an eye out.

FOUR: Stock Falling
Saying that Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash has regressed would be grossly inaccurate. He has actually improved statistically across the board in his sophomore season, playing more of a complementary role to freshman Marcus Smart.

However on the court, he has not looked like a player that has taken the next step in his development. Nash is not great at one thing in regards to shooting (23.1 3PT percent), defending (0.9 blocks + steals), or individual scoring. Right now, Nash is a role player and a second-round pick despite flashing the skill of a potential mid-first rounder last season.

Hit page 2 to read about Nerlens Noel’s devastating injury…

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