Unpredictability of draft adds intrigue for Pelicans

June 27, 2013

Pelicans Draft Central It’s not unusual for there to be spirited debate about which player should be the No. 1 overall selection in an NBA Draft. In recent years, it’s often a heated discussion over the merits of two players – Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley? Greg Oden or Kevin Durant? Dwight Howard or Emeka Okafor?

Never does it evolve into a five- or six-player free-for-all.

That’s one aspect of the 2013 NBA Draft that makes it so different. A handful of prospects have been mentioned as a potential top pick. One of those players, University of Maryland center Alex Len, is projected to go anywhere from first to 10th, a range that may be unprecedented for an elite draftee.

In such an unpredictable year, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that New Orleans Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps is holding his cards close to the vest.

“I’ve got my poker face on,” a grinning Demps told local media Tuesday. “If you say too much, loose lips sink ships. At this time of year, it’s tough to reveal too many things. I would love to tell all of the fans what we’re trying to do, but there is always that fear that other teams will jump on the Internet, read my quotes and try to beat us to the punch.”

Guarded in his overall comments, Demps noted that the Pelicans worked out – or interviewed separately in person – six players. The group includes Anthony Bennett, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Len, Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo.

However, when asked whether he would be comfortable drafting a player the Pelicans did not closely acquaint themselves with this month, Demps succinctly responded, “Yes.”

As is the case each June due to the proliferation of rumor-heavy NBA websites, there have been stories predicting virtually every draft scenario. There were reports that New Orleans wants to trade up to the No. 1 spot, stay put at 6, or even move down to later in the lottery. It’s a topic Demps also did not want to touch. Of the reports that the Pelicans were in discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers about the top pick, Demps responded, “I wouldn’t speculate or reveal any trade talks or conversations. I just think that’s not a good thing to do.”

During the three-year Demps/Monty Williams regime, the front office has also shied away from publicly giving hints on what New Orleans’ top roster needs may be. Williams has avoided discussing where the team needs help, partly because he believes it can be insulting to the veteran players already on a roster.

For example, following the May 21 draft lottery, the head coach said, “Sometimes when you start talking about what you need, it seems disrespectful to what you have.”

Add it all up, and draft analysts are left with only presumptions and educated guesses in terms of New Orleans’ draft intentions. But in a year where there’s so little consensus and certainty surrounding the draft, that’s something that could easily be said about all 30 NBA teams.