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Pelicans to pick 8th in upcoming NBA Draft; looking at who they may take

A.J. Griffin, Johnny Davis, and Jeremy Sochan
A.J. Griffin, Johnny Davis, and Jeremy Sochan(AP)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 7:28 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 7:42 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The ping pong balls have fallen and the Pelicans will choose their next player at 8th overall in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft.

Here’s a look at the complete draft order:

The NBA has spent years trying to solve the problem of underperforming teams purposely tanking games in order to increase their odds of getting a high lottery pick after the season.

That’s why the league created a lottery system and also put the Play-In Tournament to give teams hovering around the 8th and final postseason seed a fighting chance to disrupt the order and win their way into a playoff birth.

One team that understood the assignment? The New Orleans Pelicans. The squad under first-year head coach Willie Green turned their season around after a 1-12 start with no Zion Williamson available and fought their way through two Play-In elimination games to qualify for the postseason, despite having an overall record (36-46) that was under .500.

Pelicans land 8th overall pick in upcoming NBA draft
Pelicans land 8th overall pick in upcoming NBA draft

Even though their pick tonight isn’t one of their own, it is a pick they acquired from the Anthony Davis trade with the Lakers after their former franchise player asked for a one-way ticket out of town.

The Pelicans were the lone playoff team with favorable lottery odds Tuesday night. With a 99 percent chance, their team was destined to land a top 10 pick and they held a 6 percent chance at landing on No. 1.

In 2019, the Pelicans had a 6 percent chance also when they landed the No. 1 pick that eventually became Zion Williamson.

While the Pelicans won’t be adding a Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith at No. 1 overall in a few months, there is a lot to be optimistic about for a team adding a lower lottery pick to a playoff team that expects to reinsert Zion back into its starting lineup.

Let’s take a look at a few options that might be available at 8th overall.

A.J. Griffin | SF | Duke | 6′6-222 lbs.

Duke's AJ Griffin, right, drives against Miami's Wooga Poplar (55) in the second half of an...
Duke's AJ Griffin, right, drives against Miami's Wooga Poplar (55) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game during semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament, Friday, March 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)(John Minchillo | AP)

A.J. Griffin could be a steal at No. 8, a physical forward that does a little bit of everything. His stock lowered as he started this past season injured but he closed out the 2021-22 campaign strong enough to remind scouts why he should be taken as a top 10 pick. He drives to the basket with authority and shot a blistering 44.7 percent from 3-point range. He was also nearly 50 percent shooter overall from the field. He’s considered the best small forward in the draft and could serve as a problem for Pelicans’ opponents trying to defend a second unit that would feature a combo wings Griffin and 6′8 Trey Murphy under the command of floor general Jose Alvarado.

Johnny Davis | G | Wisconsin | 6′5-194 lbs

Wisconsin's Johnny Davis reacts after his dunk during the second half of a first-round NCAA...
Wisconsin's Johnny Davis reacts after his dunk during the second half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game against Colgate Friday, March 18, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)

Johnny Davis doesn’t have a deep offensive bag but he plays without fear and will drive anytime. He’s a hard-nosed defensive player that draws similarities to Josh Hart. He has to get his 3-point percentage up to compete at the NBA level though, only hitting 30 percent from beyond the arc, below the NBA’s “good” average of 35 percent. Davis will prove he’s valuable on the next level on the defensive side of the ball, and if paired in the second unit with Jose Alvarado, the two could cause complete chaos for the opposing guards trying not to commit multiple 8-second violations.

Jeremy Sochan | F | Baylor | 6′9-230 lbs.

Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan (1) takes a shot during a second-round game against North Carolina...
Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan (1) takes a shot during a second-round game against North Carolina in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, March, 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)(Tony Gutierrez | AP)

Jeremy Sochan has NBA size and is versatile for a player that often played small and power forward last season. He doesn’t shoot particularly well but excels at everything else. He cleans up on the glass, facilitates, and is effective at putting the ball on the floor to make plays. He also may be the best defender in the entire draft.

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