Pelicans’ Picks to Be New Defensive Duo?


After swapping first-round picks with the Memphis Grizzlies three days before the draft, the New Orleans Pelicans went from picking 10th to 17th.

This move concerned the Pelicans’ fanbase, as there looked to be a significant talent gap between the two picks.

As the picks were made and the draft moved on, two of our three “Perfect Picks” were off the board. First, Moses Moody went to Golden State with the 14th pick. Then sharpshooter Corey Kispert was taken directly after by the Wizards.

But the Pels seem to have found a pretty good fit with their first-round selection, Trey Murphy III.

1st Round 17th Overall Pick

Trey Murphy III – 6’8″ 205lbs (University of Virginia)

2020-21 Stats – 11.3 PPG / 3.4 RPG / 43% 3PT

The Pelicans entered the draft looking for two things– defense and shooting. They secured both with Murphy.

The 21-year-old is a 6-foot-9 “guard” with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. His size and length make him a great candidate to become an elite on-ball defender. While listed at guard, it’s more than likely the Pels deploy him at the three or four. On offense, Trey’s athleticism allows him to complete backdoor cut dunks and highlight-worthy finishes at the rim.

Oh and he was the only D1 college basketball player to shoot 50/40/90.

Murphy shined in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League. In his first game, he dropped 26 points (6/9 3PT), nine rebounds and two assists. Trey finished his summer showcase averaging 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game across four appearances. He brought what was expected on both ends, accumulating six steals, four blocks and connecting on 10 three-pointers.

These performances led to Murphy notching a spot on the Summer League 1st team, alongside fellow draftees Davion Mitchell, Jalen Johnson and Cam Thomas.

2nd Round 35th Overall Pick

Herbert Jones – 6’8″ 210lbs (University of Alabama)

2020-21 Stats – 11.2 PPG / 6.6 RPG / 1.7 SPG

Now this guy was a complete steal.

Herb Jones started playing Varsity basketball in 7th grade! With his father at coach and older brother playing alongside, the family trio made the Alabama Class 1A State Championship. In his senior season, he earned the Class 4A Player of the Year award and won his school’s first-ever state championship.

His success carried on into college as he committed to his hometown Alabama. There, Jones played four years (three as a starter) and averaged 7.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. In the 2020-21 season, Herb turned up a notch and averaged career highs in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists. He was also named SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-SEC.

Jones provides New Orleans with three things– size, defense and depth; all of which are desperately needed on this Pelicans roster. He stands 6-foot-8 and provides great length with over a seven-foot wingspan. He is capable of guarding all positions and is a defensive communicator on the court. We saw it all in Summer League, as he had six blocks and seven steals.

We saw some slashing offense, too. Jones threw down a couple transition dunks including a monstrous reverse slam against the Cavs.

The Fine Line

While both picks may be judged and criticized by the NBA world, the Pelicans made the sneaky but right decisions. Both players look to be great defensively while providing potential for formidable offense. And who knows– maybe the two will form the next great defensive duo in New Orleans.

Follow us on Twitter @PelicansLead for the latest Pelicans news and insight. 

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About Brian Hunter Vollman

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