Missi In The Middle: Do Pelicans Covet Baylor Big Man?

In the early 20s, the Pelicans’ options will vary. They could select safer prospects who are ready to contribute soon. There’s some risk to this strategy, as it could mean passing on a true needle mover. If New Orleans wants to swing on the upside, Baylor center Yves Missi makes sense as a bet on rim protection and defensive potential.

Missi measured at 6’10.75 without shoes at 230 points with a 7’2 wingspan. He towers over opposing players and pairs that impressive size with elite movement skills and explosion. A true top-tier athlete, Missi explodes off the ground for huge dunks and blocks. These tools are especially notable on defense, where Missi’s potential to excel in multiple roles is immense.

He posted a strong 7.1% block rate at Baylor, elevating to reject shots in the paint. His discipline and technique are still improving as is common for most college freshmen. Still, Missi’s tools are overwhelming enough to compensate as he matures. He’s an easy bet to shut off the paint for the Pelicans on defense, deterring drives and shots at the rim.

Defensive versatility will be Missi’s special trait if he succeeds; despite his enormous stature, Missi’s speed, light feet, and fluidity are rare. He glides around the court, covering space like the great big-man defenders do in the NBA. At his ceiling, Missi could execute any pick-and-roll coverage, defending in deep drop, trap or even switching on the perimeter. That’s a tantalizing proposition, even if Missi must develop to reach those heights.

On the surface, Missi profiles like an average rim-running big on the offensive end. He’ll dunk the ball on rolls and cuts, rebound, and set screens. Missi struggles with his decision-making, limiting his playmaking upside, and doesn’t ever shoot jumpers. He’s a truly phenomenal vertical athlete, elevating for big posters regularly.

Digging deeper reveals some possible offensive upside as a driver. Missi handles the ball more than most traditional centers, weaponizing the same defensive fluidity to win off of the dribble. He’s comfortable stringing together moves to beat slower bigs downhill to dunk or set himself up in the post. Missi flashes competency running basic NBA offense, flowing into dribble handoffs, and initiating from the high post with a pass.

Missi’s Pelicans fit is cleaner defensively than it is offensively. They’ll benefit greatly from his rim protection, shoring up one of New Orleans’ biggest roster holes. Pairing a non-shooter with Zion Williamson may be a bit risky, as spacing the floor for him will be a huge priority. He would pair well with Willamson as a target on the interior as a screener and creative offense could unlock his driving game.

Analysis by Ben Pfeifer

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