Undrafted Free Agents Who Would Be Steals for New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans organization was without a choice in the 2014 NBA draft thanks to its 2013 trade that sent then-pick Nerlens Noel and this year’s selection to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday.
According to John Reid of The Times-Picayune, the team was trying to obtain a 2014 slot via trade, but those intentions did not come to fruition. The night wasn’t a total waste, though, as Reid also reported that general manager Dell Demps did complete a transaction that sent point guard Pierre Jackson to the 76ers for Philadephia's second-round choice, Russ Smith.
Still, losing out on a very deep prospect pool was disappointing, and now this franchise has to choose from the best of the rest.
The Pelicans' main area for concern is improving both their interior and perimeter defense. Granted, their recent acquisition of Omer Asik gives the team a pair of great paint protectors along with Anthony Davis, but the reserve group needs a protective infusion, too.
It would not hurt if another shooter was also added to bolster the bench’s scoring production.
Now that the official selection process is over, let’s take a look at the undrafted athletes who would be solid contributors for the Pelicans.
Patric Young, University of Florida
Patric Young played center at the University of Florida, but his 6’9” frame makes him more suited for power forward at the NBA level.
The former Gator is strong, agile, quick and explosive; couple that with his 7’1” wingspan, and it becomes apparent that this kid could be a great energy guy coming off of the bench. On the downside, Young does not have very big hands, which could affect his rebounding and ball security.
Still, it would be hard to not give this youngster serious consideration. His muscular appearance is more than just a look. Young played in every game during his college tenure; that durability has to be intriguing to the Pelicans considering the injuries that they have dealt with in recent years.
Adding Young to the roster would give this team a solid reserve big man who would be able to contribute statistically as well as add those positive intangibles that can’t be coached. They should not pass up this guy.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse University
C.J. Fair split time at both forward positions while playing for Syracuse, and that experience will serve him well at the professional level. For the Pelicans, Fair would be a player who would be best utilized as a small forward, shoring up the team’s perimeter defense.
Now, this athlete does not have the reputation for being a shutdown defender, but his frame and footwork give him a foundation that could flourish with proper coaching.
Another plus for Fair is his shooting, which improved over the course of his collegiate career. He spots up well and is proficient at hitting the open jumper. His solid mechanics could help him develop a decent three-point stroke. If this kid can extend his range, he could carve out a place for himself as a valued three-and-D role player.
Artem Klimenko, Russia
Artem Klimenko is a prospect whose age and abilities show a lot of promise, but the level of competition he's faced makes it easy to doubt if that potential would remain if he left Russia.
His positives are hard to ignore. This kid is 7’1” with a 7’4” wingspan and weighs 228 pounds. While small by stateside standards, his youth suggests that he can become a better-built NBA center without losing any of his strengths.
DraftExpress.com touts Klimenko’s ability to run the floor, shoot the mid-range jumper and play above the rim. He is especially good at moving in transition. A big man like this would be a boon for the Pelicans as a reserve center who could bring some energy and help produce some quick offense.
If his mobility translates to the defensive end, then Klimenko could also serve as a major offensive disruptor for Pelicans opposition. Being able to sit Asik or Davis and still have a formidable presence in the paint would be great for this club.
However, it has to be reiterated that he has not played against high-level competition in Russia. At best, Klimenko would be a multiyear development project if added, but it could not hurt to see what the kid could do.
Sean Kilpatrick, University of Cincinnati
Although the Pelicans have a pretty stacked backcourt, Sean Kilpatrick might still be able to find a spot on their roster given his ability to score.
The former Cincinnati Bearcat had a full four-year career where he increased his scoring output in each of his campaigns. He topped out at 20.6 points per game during his run as a senior; that’s no small feat considering that his team plays in the increasingly competitive AAC.
A big minus for Kilpatrick is that he’s not very solid defensively, the area where the Pelicans need the most improvement. Add that to the fact that he is just 6’4”, and it becomes very debatable whether or not his ability to put up points is worth him simultaneously being smaller than other shooting guards and inept defensively.
His guarding issues actually seem to be a matter of discipline. NBADraft.net says that he tends to gamble too much on stealing passes and thus finds himself out of position.
Still, the Pelicans might find Kilpatrick enticing since current reserve guard Anthony Morrow is opting to test his value on the free-agent market. The undrafted prospect could serve as a cheaper alternative.
Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State University
Jordan Bachynski had a very solid collegiate career under Herb Sendek and deserves a shot at the NBA. He averaged 11.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.0 blocks during his senior year. Of all of the free-agent centers, he is probably the most polished and pro-ready.
Bachynski has a really solid offensive skill set and scores proficiently. His 54.9 career field-goal percentage shows that he is very effective in the post.
The young man also moves his feet well, which should help in adjusting to defending at the professional level. At 7’2” tall and 254 pounds with a 7’4” wingspan, he already has the makings of an NBA frame, so he should also be able to fight for rebounds.
Bachynski’s biggest asset, though, is the fact that he played all four years. That gives him a level of maturity beyond that of most of his peers and could mean a smoother transition.
He has already experienced what it’s like to work and improve over long stretches and should have no problems with being a student of the professional game before becoming a regular contributor. The Pelicans have not had much luck with stability at the center position. Bachynski could be the beginning of steadying the middle.