The stage at last month's NBA draft lottery

Variety of names mentioned as sixth pick for Pelicans in mock drafts

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer scoured the Internet to see what other websites are projecting New Orleans to do with its first-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 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: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Kris Dunn, Providence

New Orleans’ guard rotation could look completely different in a year or two, and getting Providence’s Kris Dunn, who averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.2 assists last year for Providence, could rejuvenate the Pelicans perimeter play.

Picks only, no comments provided Kris Dunn, Providence Buddy Hield, Oklahoma Kris Dunn, Providence

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