Jordan Hawkins #24 of the Connecticut Huskies dribbles the ball against the Marquette Golden Eagles during a semifinal game in the Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 10.

'Best movement shooter in draft' delivers high marks for Pelicans in team grades

The news of Jordan Hawkins being selected No. 14 overall by New Orleans in Thursday’s draft was well received in parts of the Northeast – specifically Storrs, Conn., where the shooting guard starred in college for the Connecticut Huskies. The final choice of the 2023 NBA lottery was also endorsed in nearby Baton Rouge, by a prominent women’s basketball standout, LSU forward Angel Reese. Also a 2023 NCAA national champion, Reese is Hawkins’ cousin and responded to the development by tweeting her excitement that he will also play hoops in the Gulf South during the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Nationally, the reception to the Hawkins pick has been similarly positive. A wide range of websites posted their draft grades for all 30 NBA teams either late Thursday or Friday morning – and the vast majority doled out an ‘A’ or ‘B’ designation for the Pelicans. A recap of some of the prominent sites, with Sporting News and Yahoo! topping the list by granting a report card of an ‘A’ grade to New Orleans. Comments are provided by each respective media entity:

“Hawkins will need to fill out his frame to offer more resistance at the defensive end. Still, his shot looks like an elite (or near-elite, at least) skill that should allow him to contribute right now and potentially spend a decade-plus in this league. More than a few mocks had Hawkins slipping out of the lottery, and that never made sense to me. He’s an instant-impact contributor with plenty of room to grow. Great pick.”
Grade: A-minus

“The best movement shooter in this year’s NBA Draft proved to be an unmatchable hot-streak shooter for UConn during their title run. The eye test bared out his ability to hit tough shots off screens. He now gets to play off of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.”
Grade: B-plus

“The New Orleans Pelicans have their three stars in Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, which is why they wanted a player who could come in and help them win right now. Hawkins can do this out on the wing and will be an immediate source of three-point shooting.”
Grade: B

“Credit to Trey Murphy, who said on our Hoop Collective draft livestream that the Pelicans should add shooting with their lone pick at the end of the lottery. They don’t come much better as shooters than Hawkins, who hit 39% of his 3s and 89% of his free throws for the national champion Huskies.”
Grade: B

“Hawkins is a big-game stud and one of the draft’s best motion shooters. He didn’t come to UConn as a no-question first-round talent, but he built himself into one after an impressive sophomore campaign and national title run. He's a great shooter from all over the floor and an aggressive off-ball cutter and mover. He is a sturdy and reliable defender, as well. … He will learn a lot of tricks from CJ McCollum.”
Grade: A-minus

“The Pels made just one pick in this year’s draft, and they selected the NCAA champ to close out the lottery. Hawkins averaged better than 16 points per game for the Huskies during their title run, and he can be a great addition to New Orleans’ bench as a capable scorer and three-point shooter.”
Grade: B

“The Pelicans took Jordan Hawkins 14th, drafting one of the best shooters in this draft. Hawkins is deadly when his feet are set, moves extremely well without the ball and can shoot on the move, although there are defensive and athleticism questions.”
Grade: B-minus

“The Pelicans only had one pick, but it went according to plan. New Orleans needed a shooter to help space the floor for Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum, and it selected one of the best 3-point marksmen in this class.Hawkins has a flamethrower, capable of knocking down 3s in a variety of ways with a lightning-quick release.”
Grade: A

“Don't be fooled by tonight’s letter grade: the Pelicans left with a player who is sure to significantly bolster their outside shooting from the get-go. And that’s something you can’t fault the team for reaching on, especially with one of the more talented young cores in the league. Alongside players like Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Trey Murphy III and Dyson Daniels, Hawkins will thrive with his white-hot movement shooting next season, and that’s a worthy pick to cap off the lottery.”
Grade: B-minus

“The best 3-point shooter off movement in this draft, a player who is at home running a maze and firing a shot at a moment’s notice. Though he doesn’t have ideal dimensions or strength at the wing position, he is a good athlete and lateral mover with vertical pop, granting him access to plays on both offense and defense that many other shooting specialists can’t tap into.”
Grade: B

”The Pelicans needed shooting. They got it. Simple.”
Grade: B-plus

“Hawkins is one of the best shooters in this class and the NBA is a shooter’s league. He commands the attention of defenders every time he’s on offense with the way he moves off the ball. If he catches a defender sleeping, he’s letting it fly. Hawkins helped lead UConn to a national championship this year, shooting 39% from 3-point range on seven attempts per game.”
Grade: A