Written by Ben Pfeifer
For New Orleans, Gradey Dick could be their pipe dream; very few mock drafts have the 6’8 sniper out of Kansas falling to the 14 slot. If luck falls on the Pelicans’ side on draft night, Gradey Dick might be an easy pick as the likely best talent on the board and an ever-critical shooter in an NBA predicated on pace and space.
Dick’s feature traits encompass his entire off-ball game. It’s not just his elite shooting which, let’s be clear, is elite in numbers and on tape. Dick’s high volume, capability of shooting off and on-ball, off-movement and off dribble and in the mid range and great efficiency at his age all profile as future top flight NBA marksman. His quick, high release allow Dick to shrug off contests and fire triples over even pro-level length.
As previously mentioned, Dick is more than just his shot; operating off of the ball requires a nuanced understanding of spacing and timing and is a skill that few young players possess. Gradey is an off-ball movement maestro, constantly moving and relocating to find his shot outside the arc and cutting behind sleeping defenses where his vertical pop, length and finishing craft create easy layups and dunks. He’s a masterful off-ball passer, executing difficult passes to cutters on the move and finding open teammates regularly.
Few prospects in this class can add the sheer value to a team without ever commandeering a possession and for a team like New Orleans stacked with on-ball threats, this is an enticing skill and the kind of player that can take you over the top in the playoffs when defenses hone in on your star creators. Dick struggles when he has to call his own number, as his weak handle, first step and strength limit his advantage creation upside. But for a team like New Orleans, that responsibility would be greatly reduced.
Gradey projects as a high-variance defender with the upside to add value as an off-ball playmaker. Many of Dick’s current defensive could be be easily correctable with proper coaching and scheming aside from his lackluster first step and lateral quickness which could limit his on-ball defensive utility. But on a New Orleans team stacked with stalwart wing defenders — Herb Jones, Trey Murphy, Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall, etc — Gradey could focus on being another off-ball disruptor.
Betting on special traits is always a strong idea and Gradey Dick’s hands may be the best in the class; they’re lightning quick picking off loose handles digging at the nail, swiping the ball from post-up threats and flying in from the weak side for steals and blocks. Dick’s playmaking instincts and reaction speed combined with his size should give him a decent floor on defense assuming he can clean up his current problems with awareness and attentiveness. Most teenagers struggle in this area defensively, though, so this shouldn’t be a massive concern for Gradey moving forward.
If he slips to New Orleans on draft night, it would be difficult to find a more seamless fit anywhere in the draft. New Orleans would benefit greatly from Dick’s shot making, passing and off-ball play and they have the roster construction to mitigate his weaknesses as a handler and an off-ball defender, allowing him to hone in on his elite skills. Gradey Dick might not be plan A, B or C for New Orleans. But if he falls to them, scratching their plans could pay massive dividends.
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