Although Zion Williamson did not play in any games last season, the New Orleans Pelicans (36-46) still qualified for the NBA Playoffs after defeating the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers in the two play-in games. Trading for CJ McCollum during the middle of the season assured the fans that the Pels were not tanking.
The Pelicans lost 4-2 in the first round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs to the Phoenix Suns. However, the team showed that they were ready to become contenders next season. With Williamson back at 100%, New Orleans are looking to become a more dominant team this upcoming season.
Plus, New Orleans had three picks in this year's NBA Draft. Here is who the Pelicans selected.
Round 1, Pick 8: Dyson Daniels - PG - G League Ignite. 6'6", 185 lbs (11.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, 2 spg).
Daniels is a welcome addition to the team because the roster lacked a tall point guard. Daniels should see some time off of the bench due to his defense. He will be able to guard the opposing team's shooting guard when he is paired with Devontae' Graham or Jose Alvarado on the court. He does need to improve his shot and to cut down on turnovers, but he is ready to contribute right now at 19 years of age.
Round 2, Pick 11: E.J. Liddell - F - Ohio State. 6'7", 240 lbs (19.4 rpg, 7.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.6 bpg, 37.3% 3-PT FG%).
Liddell was about to be one of the biggest steals in this draft until he tore his ACL in the Summer League.
Round 2, Pick 22: Karlo Matkovic - PF - Mega Mozzart . 6'9", 231 lbs (11.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg).
Matkovic does all of his damage in the paint with plenty of post moves. However, he will remain in Europe for another season or two because he did not attempt a three-pointer last season. Once he becomes more proficient from outside, then he could possibly make an impact down the road.
The grade on this draft is incomplete because Daniels will be asked to contribute immediately at 19 and Liddell will not be back until next season.