Pelicans Add Potential, Production With This Year’s Draft Picks

Entering a draft that wasn’t considered exceptionally talented or deep, the New Orleans Pelicans needed value with the 21st pick.

When their name was called, the Pelicans selected Baylor center Yves Missi. Missi had long been considered the top choice for New Orleans and was the consensus pick across most mock draft boards.

News outlets including The Athletic, Bleacher Report,, the Ringer, USA Today, and Yahoo! Sports had the 6-foot-11 freshman going to the Pels in Round 1. In his one season with the Bears, Missi posted averages of 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.

Newly minted general manager Bryson Graham said the Pelicans had Missi on their radar for some time.

“In October I went to Baylor,” said Graham, “and Yves really, really stood out…he showed a ton of potential. And, he really, really progressed.

“The first thing, I came back and I told (Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin) that this kid is going to be a first-round pick and we need to make sure we keep our eyes on him.”

Missi showed improvement throughout his one season at Baylor. Over his first 17 games (15 starts), he averaged 9.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks, while shooting 63.4% from the field and 48.5% at the free throw line. He scored double figures in 10 of those games, with a high of 16 points, and grabbed 10 or more rebounds in five games.

In the second half of the season, Missi averaged 12.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. His field goal percentage dipped to 59.8% as he faced mostly Big XII opponents, but he increased his free throw percentage to an impressive 74.3%. He scored 10 or more points 11 times, including his career-high 25 against TCU.

Missi is an explosive athlete who has most often been compared to Clint Capela, the Atlanta Hawks center. He gives the Pelicans length and a potential rim protector. On a team where it has been notoriously difficult for rookies to break into the rotation, Missi has an opportunity to contribute immediately on the defensive end.

“I feel like I can impact winning from Day 1,” he told ESPN on Wednesday night. “Just being able to play defense, to be able to be a threat on offense as well, just someone who can bring energy all the time.”

On Day 2, the Pelicans traded second-round picks in 2030 and 2031 to the Orlando Magic for the 47th pick and selected Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves.

Reeves scored 20.2 points per game for the Wildcats during his final season in Lexington and scored 2350 in a five-year career that took him from Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference to Rupp Arena in the SEC.

Not known as a particularly strong defender or passer, Reeves is a 6-foot-4 scorer who has no problem creating a shot for himself at any level.

He was very adept with his floater, converting 52 of his 98 attempts. Reeves also improved as an outside shooter throughout his collegiate career. After making only 66 of 213 three-point attempts during his first two seasons, Reeves was 240 of 584 (.411) over his final three seasons from beyond the arc. This past season, he posted career bests in both makes (88) and 3P% (.447).

Reeves played in more than 150 college basketball games, bringing more maturity to the Pelicans locker room to go along with his potential as a scorer off the bench.

The Pelicans addressed needs and added talent in the draft, but the offseason is far from over. Major decisions loom ahead for a reshaped front office.

David Griffin and company know that fans have high expectations after two straight seasons that ended with major letdowns. Whether the Pelicans are on track to meet them remains to be seen.

In the meantime, this year’s draft should be considered a qualified success until we see what comes next.

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One thought on “Pelicans Add Potential, Production With This Year’s Draft Picks

  1. GLeague showed me all I needed to see from Hawkins, Naji & Jose. I hope it does the same for Reeves & Missi.

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