Patrick Williams shoots a layup at Duke

Pair of Seminoles popular in mock-draft projections for Pelicans

by Jim Eichenhofer

Basketball fans in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast may not have spent much time last winter following the Atlantic Coast Conference – and those who did probably fixated on teams like Duke and North Carolina. However, if the projections from various websites and their mock drafts are correct, Pelicans supporters may want to brush up on their ACC knowledge as Nov. 18 draft night approaches. Among numerous players predicted to be selected No. 13 overall by New Orleans in the late lottery, two potential draftees played in that conference, but for Florida State (Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell). Two other common names mentioned as possible targets at 13 are Vanderbilt wing Aaron Nesmith and Maryland big Jalen Smith.

Here’s a roundup of the 13th pick in mock drafts from 18 different sites across the Internet. All comments are provided by the respective websites:

The Athletic: Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt guard/forward

“The Pelicans need to surround Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Jrue Holiday with shooters. … So here, how about drafting one of this class’ high-level, elite shooters in Nesmith? Nesmith hit about 52 percent of his 3s this season. While that came against weaker competition and likely overstates his shooting ability a bit, he does have a strong shot to be a 40-plus percent NBA 3-point shooter from a variety of situations.”

Bleacher Report: Jalen Smith, Maryland forward

“The Pelicans could target Smith for his shooting and shot-blocking next to Zion Williamson. Derrick Favors is entering free agency, and compared to Jaxson Hayes, Smith offers more physicality, offensive skill and overall discipline.” Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt guard/forward

“To fully maximize Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans must continue surrounding them with shooters who can help space the floor, give them room to operate, and knock down shots when they’re open. Nesmith is arguably one of the best pure shooters in this class with a smooth, quick release that helped him shoot 52.2% (!) from 3-point range at Vanderbilt last season.” Patrick Williams, Florida State forward

“Williams’ defensive versatility could be appealing to a New Orleans team that needs to improve on that end, and adding another combo forward could allow Zion Williamson to play more minutes at center.”

NBC Sports Bay Area: Patrick Williams, Florida State forward

“New Orleans needs shooters, but they also need some versatility at the forward position and a player that will defend. Williams has nice size and length to play switching defense in the modern NBA. He’s raw offensively, but the Pelicans don’t have an issue scoring and they can mold him into the type of player they need.”

NBC Sports Boston: Jalen Smith, Maryland forward

“Has a lot of building blocks you’ll find in the modern-day NBA big man who can defend, rebound and shoot from the perimeter. His long-range shooting numbers look good, although the sample size is small. His two-way potential makes him a solid pick at this point in the draft. 

NBC Sports Northwest: Patrick Williams, Florida State forward

“Given this could be the last lottery selection for New Orleans for a long time, they should swing for the fences with Williams whose draft stock has increased during the delayed NBA season. As a  6’8” forward with a 7’2” wingspan he can develop into a starting wing that can help the Pelicans switch defensively and guard ball-dominant small forwards, which the West is full of.” 

The Ringer; Jalen Smith, Maryland forward

“Smith is a perfect fit for the Pelicans next to Zion Williamson as a big who can shoot 3s or play inside. Though he needs to improve his fundamentals and his fluidity, he plays extremely hard.”

Salt Lake Tribune: Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama guard

“New Orleans already plays with great pace, and is said to be looking for guys who can amp that up further. Lewis brings speed and acceleration to the table, and is a solid enough distributor that he could give the Pels some good backup minutes for Lonzo Ball from the outset.”

SB Nation: Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia center

“It feels like every draft has a boom-or-bust prospect that will make one GM either look brilliant or foolish depending on his development. This year, it’s Pokusevski. The 7-footer has a mesmerizing array of skills for someone his size, showing off knockdown shooting ability and creative passing flashes with the ball.” Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt guard/forward

“New Orleans can go a number of directions here depending on which players fall to this spot, but it’s fairly clear that Nesmith is the best pure shooter in the draft, with that potentially special skill to sell and a somewhat underrated floor game.”

Sporting News: Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia center

“There aren’t a lot of players like Aleksej Pokusevski in the league so there isn’t a natural archetype for how a player like this fits, but at this point of the draft teams might start thinking about gambling and Pokusevski definitely has a high-ceiling but low-floor look to him.”

USA Today: Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama guard

“New Orleans executive David Griffin wants his team to be the fastest in league history, surrounding franchise cornerstone Zion Williamson with speed. Even though the Pelicans already have Lonzo Ball as their starting point guard, Alabama’s Lewis is perfect for their system and worth consideration.”

Yardbarker: Tyrell Terry, Stanford guard

“… He’s got a Curry family skill set – complete with the lightning quick release and unlimited range. After witnessing the gravity of Steph Curry first-hand while he was the GM of a Cavs team that had to face the Warriors in the Finals every year, don’t be surprised if David Griffin looks to surround Zion Williamson with as many elite floor spacers as possible, and Terry might be the best one in this draft.”

Picks only (Gary Parrish): Devin Vassell, Florida State guard/forward Patrick Williams, Florida State forward

NetScouts Basketball: Saddiq Bey, Villanova forward

Yahoo! Sports: Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky guard

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