Kira Lewis Jr. dons his new Pelicans hat on draft night

Pelicans receive numerous top grades for Kira Lewis pick

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

You may be excited about the arrival of Kira Lewis Jr. to New Orleans – but wait until you see what NBA draft experts are saying. The 6-foot-3 Pelicans rookie guard was described this week by Bleacher Report as “one of the most exciting offensive players in this year’s draft.” Meanwhile, four other websites used the exact same three-word phrase – “fun to watch” – when assessing what Lewis coming to the Crescent City will mean for fans viewing Pelicans games in 2020-21.

Here are draft grades from a dozen websites that released “report cards” for the league’s 30 teams. Five of the sites filed ‘A’ grades for New Orleans, while the other seven landed in the ‘B’ range:

BLEACHER REPORT

“Lewis is one of the most exciting offensive players in this year’s draft, but how he plays alongside another point guard like Lonzo Ball will decide the success of this pick. His strength is end-to-end speed with the ball in his hands – which would seem to be negated by playing with Ball – and there are a lot of questions about whether he can hold up against bigger guards defensively.”

Grade: B minus

CBS SPORTS

“New Orleans traded away three of its four picks, but Lewis is a great fit as a lightning-quick point guard with scoring, playmaking and shooting ability. It will be fun to watch him alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.”

Grade: A

MASSLIVE.COM

“Feels like we are being super generous with the ‘A’ grades here, but that’s what happens when we see some of the early picks as reaches. Lewis can shoot, handle in the pick-and-roll and finish with shifty moves around the rim. He’s also incredibly fast, which will be fun to watch.”

Grade: A minus

NBADRAFT.NET

“Kira Lewis is at or near the top of this draft class in terms of raw baseline-to-baseline speed. Lewis can fly with the ball in his hands and, at 6-3, can make big-time plays for himself and for others in transition. We saw his assist numbers take a big jump from 2.9 his freshman year at Alabama up to 5.2. He’s an emerging jump shooter, as well, hitting just under 37% of his 3s on a good number of attempts. He isn’t the kind of dead-eye marksman who can warp defenses with 30-foot bombs, but he shoots well enough to keep a defense honest. His length and quickness will serve him well on the defensive end, as well.”

Grade: A minus

NEW YORK POST

“A year after crushing the draft just by virtue of selecting Zion Williamson, the Pelicans got him a playmaker who can blaze past opponents. Lewis may need to fill out his frame but he could be fun to watch with Williamson.”

Grade: B plus

THE RINGER

“Some really talented guards have come off the board at the end of the lottery. Lewis is the fastest player in this draft and is the rare speed demon who comes into the NBA with a reliable 3-point shot. He’s the perfect complement to Lonzo Ball in that he can consistently get into the lane and create cracks in the defense that Ball can then exploit as a secondary playmaker. Both will be fantastic in the open court next to Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes, the two athletic big men drafted in last year’s lottery. The Pelicans will be flying next season.”

Grade: A

SB NATION

“Lewis is a super fast point guard who fills a need for the Pelicans while also having an argument for the best player on the board. After entering Alabama as a 17-year-old freshman, Lewis took off under head coach Nate Oats to turn into a consensus lottery pick. While he’s not the most polished finisher or passer yet, his ability to breakdown the defense off the dribble and put pressure on the rim will help make things easier for the rest of his teammates. Lewis seems like a nice match with Lonzo Ball in the backcourt as long the two can knock down three-pointers consistently enough to space the floor around Zion Williamson.”

Grade: B

SI.COM

“Kira Lewis was a rising name across the league in the lead-up to the draft, and he found a comfortable landing spot in New Orleans. His impressive speed will be heavily showcased as the Pelicans run the floor with Zion Williamson, and Lewis’ shot-making ability will allow him to play alongside Lonzo Ball. Lewis may not make a major impact as a rookie, but he fits well within New Orleans’ timeline. He should become a quality starter alongside Williamson in the coming years.”

Grade: B plus

SPORTING NEWS

“When you’re talking about a player draft, teams aren’t so much graded on a curve as on taking advantage of opportunity. The Pelicans were fortunate that a first-rate point guard prospect such as Alabama’s Kira Lewis was available to them at No. 13. The way to earn a great grade is to seize the opportunity. OK, so the Pels already have Lonzo Ball, and they’ve not been so successful to afford stacking players at one position. They’ve also not been so successful with their current group to decide that it can’t be improved with competition for positions or perhaps a subsequent move. Lewis can run a team, defend and is a developing shooter.”

Grade: A minus

THE TENNESSEAN

“Lewis’ speed will be the talk of local media in New Orleans, and he should be a real difficult player to defend in pick-and-roll situations. This is a good spot for him, as he’ll be able to use his speed to stay on the floor while he shores up the rest of his game.”

Grade: B plus

USA TODAY

“This wasn’t a big draft for the Pels after last year’s splash with Zion Williamson at No. 1. They picked Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. at No. 13, and that’ll be a key piece to an already young and budding roster poised to take off in 2020-21.”

Grade: B minus

YAHOO!

“Lewis is a solid pick at No. 13. He brings incredible potential as a playmaker and scorer alongside Lonzo Ball at the guard position, even if his defense may never come. The Pelicans continued to add to their war chest of draft assets, although they may regret trading out of the opportunity to nab Hampton at No. 24.”

Grade: B

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