The list of the top teams picking in the June 23 draft

Mock drafts lean heavily toward guards at New Orleans sixth pick

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

With the 2016 NBA Draft just nine days away, Pelicans.com scoured the Internet to see what other websites are projecting New Orleans to do with its first-round pick. The Pelicans have the No. 6 overall choice, along with two second-round selections (39 and 40 overall). All quotes are provided by the respective sources and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pelicans basketball operations or the organization. Here is the player each website is projecting New Orleans to select at 6:

USAToday.com: Marquese Chriss, Washington

Chriss has been flying up draft boards in recent weeks, and could go as high as third overall to Boston. He can shoot from the outside (35% from three), defend in space, and alter shots at the rim (1.6 blocks), which could fit in well next to Anthony Davis.

NBADraft.net: Kris Dunn, Providence

Dunn is a dynamic, true point guard with elite size and speed that steadily improved upon his weaknesses, namely decision making and shooting. Those are areas that continue to need honing, however he’s got “something special” as one scout put it. His defensive intensity and potential have drawn comparisons to players such as John Wall and Gary Payton from scouts. He still must become much more consistent as a shooter to reach that level, however. Dunn has a charisma and confidence about him that can carry him to becoming a great player in the league someday. NBA comparison: Devin Harris.

CBSSports.com (Sam Vecenie): Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

I have Jamal Murray a bit higher on my board, but it’s not hard to see the Pelicans opting against him and going for the more established Hield. The Oklahoma sharpshooter fits with New Orleans’ penchant for desiring older players to pair with Anthony Davis, and it’s also worth mentioning Hield’s established marketability. Selling tickets is a major thing for the Pelicans, and when two prospects are as close as Hield and Murray are, it’s easy to imagine New Orleans management using that as an excuse.

CBSSports.com (Gary Parrish): Kris Dunn, Providence

Anthony Davis has played four seasons in New Orleans. He’s missed the playoffs three times. He’s still never won a postseason game. So the Pelicans need to use this pick to get him somebody who can contribute immediately, and Dunn is that somebody. The point guard might be the best plug-and-play prospect in this draft. He could start on opening night if the Pelicans need him to start on opening night.

CSNBayArea.com: Jaylen Brown, California

Known for his strength, athleticism and high character, Brown will need time to polish his game, but he can contribute in Year 1. The Pelicans are a finesse team in need of a player like Brown. He can jump out of the gym and provide a defensive presence on the perimeter to slow some of the penetration coming at Anthony Davis all game long. New Orleans would love to see Brown fall to them here.

Forbes.com: Kris Dunn, Providence

Though Dunn isn’t a top-flight distributor, he’s the clear-cut best traditional PG prospect in the draft and the Pelicans have a huge need for someone to run the one moving forward.

Newsday.com: Kris Dunn, Providence

At 6-4 with a 6-9 wingspan and exceptional athleticism, Kris Dunn is physically elite for his position. He ranked eighth in the country last year with a 4.32 percent steal rate, according to advanced stats site KenPom.com, and has the tools to develop into a menacing NBA defender. Offensively, he’s still improving as a shooter (35.1 percent three-point in 2014-15 to 37.2 percent in 2015-16) and cutting back on turnovers (24.8 percent to 20.9), but he can refine those areas of his game while backing up Jrue Holiday, who will be a free agent after 2016-17. With a consistent jumper, Dunn, a gifted passer who ranked fifth last year with a 41.8 percent assist rate, would be an ideal pick-and-roll partner for Anthony Davis.

Rotoworld.com: Kris Dunn, Providence

He’s the best point guard in this year’s class and is coming off a solid junior season at Providence in which he averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, 5.3 boards, 2.5 steals and 1.3 triples. The Pelicans don’t have an immediate need at PG because Jrue Holiday looked fantastic next to Anthony Davis last season, but he’s also not very durable and Dunn would give them some insurance. A lot of NBA teams need point guard help this summer, so some of them may try to move up in the lottery to take Dunn. He was the Big East player of the year and defensive player of the year, and he should develop into a nice two-way player at the next level.

AZCentral.com: Kris Dunn, Providence

The Pelicans need to take advantage of Anthony Davis now and getting a NBA-ready playmaker for him might be the best route to go. It sure would make coach Alvin Gentry’s life better, pairing Davis with the draft’s top playmaker who has an ability to be a top defender on the ball. He improved enough in college and is strong enough physically to start as a rookie.

TheBigLead.com: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Too early? The Pelicans need defense; they also need scorers to take pressure of Anthony Davis. They’ll likely lose Eric Gordon in FA. If they keep Ryan Anderson, and add Hield, that’s going to help prevent teams from doubling Davis.

NBA.com: Jakob Poeltl, Utah

New Orleans has to go center somewhere this offseason, whether the draft, trade or free agency. Poeltl has the chance to put Austria on the NBA map after two seasons on the college fast track from unheralded recruit to possibly the first half of the lottery. Playing for former NBA big man Larry Krystkowiak at Utah, Poeltl showed he can be a bruising inside presence, especially on defense while appearing not only able to handle the contact but enjoying the chance to initiate it. He has been working to develop an offensive game, the area where his lack of experience most showed, but is the kind of worker who will put in the time to get better.

ESPN.com: Dragan Bender, Croatia

The Pelicans need backcourt help and it might be hard to pass on Hield if he’s still on the board. But word on the street is that they are pretty big Bender fans and see him fitting nicely with Anthony Davis in the future – especially with their fear of losing Ryan Anderson this summer to free agency.

The Vertical: Jamal Murray, Kentucky

The Pelicans’ backcourt is unsettled at the moment, with a dozen different players earning a starting nod at one point or another over the course of the season. Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday have all struggled with injuries and none is under contract past next season, which means New Orleans will look at all of the top guards available. Murray was one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball despite being a freshman.

SI.com: Jamal Murray, Kentucky

The Pelicans need real help for next year, so Buddy Hield could make sense, too. But even as a 22-year-old, Buddy will take time to adjust to the NBA. Murray gives the Pelicans the benefit of shooting that could help the same way Hield would, plus an offensive ceiling that could eventually make him a legitimate perimeter star next to Anthony Davis. It’s a gamble – at 19 years old, he’ll have to get much better on defense, and he struggled creating his own offense against Indiana’s NBA-caliber athletes in the NCAA tournament. Still, the Pelicans need to bet big to get Brow some real help. At the very least, he can’t be worse than Austin Rivers.

HoopsHype.com: Kris Dunn, Providence

The Pelicans would likely jump for joy if they could shore up their backcourt with the draft’s only elite PG prospect in Dunn at 6. There is speculation that he could go as high as 3. He refused to work out for Boston and Phoenix, two teams with PGs in place, but there’s always the possibility that someone moves into the Top 5 picks to snag him. The shoulder injury has not been a problem for over a year, yet some speculate it could be red-flagged in a physical.

FoxSports.com: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

The Pelicans desperately need wing scoring, and they’ll get it with a guy who averaged 25 points per game last season at Oklahoma. No, Hield isn’t a complete player, but at this point you know exactly what you’re getting from him. And with Eric Gordon hitting free agency, what Hield has is exactly what the Pelicans need.

SportingNews.com: Dragan Bender, Croatia

His athleticism is a question, but Bender is a very good shooter for a 7-0 forward, capable of handling any of the frontcourt positions. He has not gotten a lot of playing time with Maccabi Tel Aviv and he won’t be 19 until November, but he is mature and has good basketball IQ. His versatility makes him an attractive big man in today’s game generally, and his shooting would mesh in a lineup with Anthony Davis.

Picks only, no comments provided

BleacherReport.com: Jaylen Brown, California

DraftExpress.com: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Pelicans second-round picks 39 and 40

DraftExpress.com: Isaia Cordinier, France and Georgios Papagiannis, Greece

NBADraft.net: Anthony Barber, North Carolina State and Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma

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