Character. Basketball IQ. Shooting. Defensive versatility.
The New Orleans Pelicans will be spending this 2021 NBA offseason seeking a combination of those traits in players they add to their roster. They believe they got a fast start to that process Thursday, acquiring a pair of accomplished college players during the league’s annual draft.
As part of a reported, larger trade to be finalized later, the Pelicans agreed in principle to acquire the draft rights to No. 17 pick Trey Murphy III from Memphis. The Durham, N.C., native played a total of three college seasons, capping his career by playing 2020-21 at the University of Virginia, after transferring from Rice. Murphy shot 40.1 percent from three-point range as a collegian, including a career-best 43.3 percent with the Cavaliers last season.
In Round 2, New Orleans used the No. 35 overall pick to select Alabama forward Herbert Jones, who was the SEC’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as a senior with the Crimson Tide. Like Jones, Murphy was considered a stellar defensive contributor in college, drawing pre-draft comparisons from scouts to Toronto’s OG Anunoby and Atlanta’s De’Andre Hunter, both quality, young wing defenders.
“We wanted high-character human beings,” Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said just before midnight of the team’s objectives. “We talked about that for a long time. The one thing we wanted to do this summer was bring in defensive-slanted guys, high-basketball IQ guys and shooting. I think we did that with these two players. Both (are) high-character guys that can really bring a lot of versatility on the defensive end.
“One (Murphy) can really shoot the ball. One of them (Jones) can playmake, and shooting is something (Jones) is still working on. They are two guys we really like and we’ll implement really well with the guys we already have on our roster.”