New Orleans Pelicans draft picks 2021: Potential targets with No. 17 pick

The New Orleans Pelicans have their franchise stars with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. With the 2021 NBA Draft approaching and a blockbuster trade made, let’s preview the Pelicans’ approach with the No. 17 pick.

David Griffin, the Pelicans’ president of basketball operations, isn’t afraid to be aggressive. With a war chest of draft capital and young talent, a blockbuster trade is possible this summer. Let’s dive into our Pelicans draft preview, examining this team’s best options.

2021 New Orleans Pelicans draft picks

  • First round, 17th pick
  • Second round, 35th pick
  • Second round, 38th pick
  • Second round, 43rd pick
  • Second round, 51st pick
  • Second round, 53rd pick

New Orleans Pelicans mock draft: No. 17 pick

  • 14. Golden State Warriors – Davion Mitchell, guard, Baylor
  • 15. Washington Wizards – Uzman Garuba, forward, Spain
  • 16. Oklahoma City Thunder – Isaiah Jackson, center, Kentucky
  • 17. New Orleans Pelicans – Jalen Johnson, forward, Duke

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2021 NBA Draft targets for the Pelicans

  • New Orleans Pelicans draft needs: Three-point shooting, perimeter defense, guard depth

Corey Kispert, forward, Gonzaga

New Orleans Pelicans draft picks
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans can’t head into the 2021-’22 NBA season without more shooters. New Orleans averaged the fourth-fewest 3-point attempts per game (30.1) and had the fifth-lowest percentage (34.8%) from beyond the arc.

Corey Kispert, a consensus first-team All-American, was instrumental to Gonzaga’s incredible season. The 6-foot-7 forward shot 44% from behind the 3-point line, averaging 2.8 treys per game. On top of that, he shot 62.8% on attempts inside the line.

No one will suggest defense is his strength, but he at least shows the desire to contribute on that end. But the biggest thing for New Orleans, Kispert is the best shooter in the 2021 NBA Draft. Put him on the court with “Point Zion” and the Pelicans will become an even bigger problem for opponents.

Jalen Johnson, forward, Duke

New Orleans Pelicans draft picks
Nicolet’s Jalen Johnson scores two of his 17 points during the Knights’ 77-52 sectional semifinal victory over Whitefish Bay at Port Washington High School on March 12, 2020. Nicolet 1 March 12 2020

The Pelicans should already feel good about their offseason. Moving Eric Bledsoe’s contract and upgrading from Steven Adams to Jonas Valanciunas is huge. If New Orleans stays put at No. 17 and Duke’s young forward falls, this becomes a very interesting situation.

There are undeniable concerns with Duke, red flags that make him an NBA Draft prospect with vastly different values around the league. A former five-star recruit, Johnson seems to have a habit of leaving his teams and clashing with those around him.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported there were off-court issues between Johnson’s camp and the Blue Devils. He also abruptly left IMG and bounced around in high school.

With all that said, there is unreal upside with Johnson. As mentioned, he was one of the top basketball recruits in the nation just a year ago and once viewed as a potential top-5 pick. A 6-foot-9 forward with tremendous length and athleticism, development and maturity is the only thing standing in Johnson’s way from becoming the type of contributor on a perennial contender.

New Orleans Pelicans draft preview

The Pelicans were never going to keep the No. 10 pick, especially with all the draft capital they owned. So, the front office rightfully used it as an asset to dump Bledsoe’s contract. With that out of the way, things become even more interesting at No. 17 overall.