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Villanova wing, Florida State forward among popular mock-draft projections for Pelicans

A global pandemic has deprived NBA draft aficionados of a few staples of the normal pre-draft process, including canceling the annual mid-May combine in Chicago and – at least so far – individual workouts that prospects have with teams. Nothing, however, will stop mock drafts from taking place everywhere on the Internet. With the 2020 NBA Draft scheduled for Oct. 16, let’s take an initial look at how various sites are projecting New Orleans to use the No. 13 overall pick on that Friday evening in the fall. Comments immediately below each player are provided by the respective websites:

NBA.com consensus from mock drafts: Saddiq Bey, guard/forward, Villanova

“Prototypical 3-and-D player who can score in a variety of ways and defend multiple positions.”

Additional info: The league’s official website reviewed 10 different prominent mock drafts and computed which players were “on average” projected to be taken in each of the 14 lottery slots. Bey actually attended the same high school in Washington, D.C., as New Orleans three-year pro Josh Hart, while also going to Villanova.

NBA.com: Aleksej Pokusevski, center, Olympiacos

“He’s 7’0” tall, he can rip it from three, and he has ball handling skills that are so good it almost looks comical from a man of his size. There aren’t a lot of players like Aleksej Pokusevski in the league so there isn’t a natural archetype for how a player like this fits but at this point of the draft teams might start thinking about gambling and Pokusevski definitely has a high ceiling but low floor look to him.”

Additional info: According to NBA.com’s draft analysis, Pokusevski turned in his “best showing at last year’s FIBA U18 European Championship averaging 10 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.7 steals, and 4 blocks over 25 minutes per game, he stuffed the stat sheet like few players in recent memory.”

SI.com: Saddiq Bey, guard/forward, Villanova

“The Pelicans’ defensive struggles were laid bare in Orlando, and this pick gives them a chance to address that. Surrounding Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram with big, versatile role players seems like a viable solution. Bey has won people over with his consistency and bankability as an improved shooter with the tools to hold up on the defensive end of the ball.”

Additional info: Recent Pelicans.com guest Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated describes Bey as somewhat of a first-round sleeper, writing that “He has a legitimate chance to sneak into the lottery as things stand, and is seen as a relatively safe bet.”

ESPN.com: Patrick Williams, forward, Florida State

“The second-youngest player in this draft class. His shooting indicators are promising, even if he is still a fairly raw player overall on both ends of the floor. Williams’ defensive versatility could be appealing to a New Orleans team that needs to improve on that end, and adding another combo forward could allow Zion Williamson to play more minutes at center.”

Additional info:  As a freshman with the Seminoles, the Charlotte native was 16/50 from three-point range (32 percent), while an excellent 83.8 percent at the foul line. He came off the bench in all 29 of his appearances on an FSU team that won the ACC title.

The Athletic, Saddiq Bey, guard/forward, Villanova

“Bey ticks all of the boxes a modern wing should. He hit over 45 percent from 3 this past season on a bunch of attempts per game… He should be able to translate that to the next level. He’s also a smart, unselfish passer, and a good cutter having played in Villanova’s offense. On the other end, Bey was one of the better defenders on the perimeter in the Big East.”

Additional info: Sam Vecenie of The Athletic describes New Orleans as being in a flexible position draft-wise, noting, “The Pelicans don’t really have a ton of needs, so they should just be taking the best player available who can help them on the defensive end and grow with their young core.”

The Ringer, Tyrese Maxey, guard, Kentucky

“Shot maker with a knack for making clutch plays on offense and defense; he’s a winner.”

Additional info: The Ringer uses player comparisons for each prospect. For Maxey, the site describes him as being “shades of” Kyle Lowry, Bradley Beal and Carsen Edwards.

NBC Sports: Tyrese Maxey, guard, Kentucky

“Maxey isn’t an efficient scorer but has some intriguing upside as a two-way player. And you never know when a Kentucky guard will go overlooked just because he didn’t fit well in college. See: Devin Booker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyler Herro.”

Additional info: In terms of efficiency in his one college season, Maxey shot 42.7 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from three-point range, but was an excellent foul shooter at 83.3. To use one comparison from the list of three fellow Wildcats, Herro shot 46.2, 35.5 and 93.5 in his freshman season at UK.

CBS: Patrick Williams, forward, Florida State

“Wings with his skill and feel don’t come around often. He’s a raw product offensively and there’s physical development that may be needed before he reaches his potential, but teams see in him a role player in the NBA like he was in college, and that’s a perfect fit in New Orleans with a star like Zion Williamson already in place.”

Additional info: CBS writer Kyle Boone says scouts “rave about (Williams) and his NBA potential because of his size (6-8), wingspan (6-11) and defensive playmaking potential.”

Bleacher Report: Jalen Smith, forward/center, Maryland

“Smith made a significant impression this year with his improved body and shooting, and scouts are talking as if he won’t make it outside the lottery. New Orleans would use him to stretch the floor and bang inside, but teams also believe there is more to his offensive game than he was able to showcase at Maryland.”

Additional info: Smith’s offensive game improved across the board as a sophomore last season, including bumping his scoring average from 11.7 to 15.5, while becoming more efficient from the field (49.2 to 53.8), three-point range (26.8 to 36.8) and foul line (65.8 to 75.0).

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