NEW ORLEANS — At least the Pelicans don't have to change a slogan they've used in the recent past. The picks of Zion Williams, a combination forward and center, and Jaxson Hayes, a 6'11" center from Texas who was an extreme late bloomer.
Williamson was a given, the consensus best player in the nation in this draft class, and possibly the best player since LeBron James came directly from high school.
Hayes was a bit different. He didn't start on his high school team until his senior year but then it was all signs pointing up.
Playing at Big-12 Texas, Hayes had 71 points in his freshman 'one-and-done' season. He averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds a game and is said to be still improving with a big upside.
Hayes was compared favorably to Tyson Chandler, a player the Pelicans' fans are familiar with, who was superb at blocking shots, pulling down rebounds and running the court.
The Pelicans went out to the perimeter with their third pick in the first round, taking Virginia Tech SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker with the 17th overall pick.
Alexander-Walker shot 47.4% from the field and 37.4% from three during his sophomore season at Virginia Tech. He also led the team in steals (1.9 per game), assists and minutes.
He adds another shooting and ball-handling option for a Pelicans backcourt that already features Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday.
With their first pick of the second round, the Pelicans took Brazilian sharpshooter Marcos Louzada Silva.
Draft experts praised Silva's ability to drain 3-pointers, but worry that he might not make the transition to the NBA. Silva has only played in Brazil, limiting his competition. How he'll react to defending and shooting over NBA-level talent will be interesting to see.