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The New Orleans are keen on guard prospect Scoot Henderson, which is why they’re rumored to trade up in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft. The goal is to secure the #2 pick from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for either small forward Brandon Ingram or power forward Zion Williamson.
The NBA Draft takes place on Thursday in Chicago. The Pelicans currently have the #14 pick, but would have to work out an enticing trade package for the #2 pick so they can select Henderson.
The Hornets were the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference last season with a 27-55 record. They were the fourth-worst team overall in the NBA, but were able to secure the #2 pick through the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Pelicans finished in 10th place last season with a 42-40 record. They qualified for the Western Conference Play-In Tournament but failed to secure the #8 seed.
The Hornets are +60000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship. They’re at the bottom of DraftKings’ futures board, with the Detroit Pistons (+60000) and Washington Wizards (+60000), who recently traded Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns.
The Pelicans are +4000 odds to win the championship next season, and they’re in the middle of the pack on the futures board.
Betting on the 2023 NBA Draft
The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery and were awarded the #1 pick. French prospect Victor Wembanyama is expected to get selected #1 by the Spurs.
DraftKings posted a prop bet on the overall first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and Wembanyama is an overwhelming favorite at -20000 odds.
The 7-foot-4 Wembanyama is considered a “once in a generation” talent and is compared to Hall of Fame center Tim Duncan. Wembanyama is the most coveted prospect since LeBron James was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005.
The NBA instituted a gap year policy in 2006 to deter high school stars from joining the league directly. In the one-and-done era, future prospects have the option to play college ball in the NBA developmental league or to play pro hoops overseas.
Henderson, a 6-foot-2 guard, bypassed college and played last season with the NBA G League Ignite. Henderson is the betting favorite at -150 odds to get selected #2. He’s +110 odds as the #3 pick, and +5000 odds to become the first-overall pick.
Brandon Miller, a 6-foot-9 forward, is the betting favorite to become the #3 pick at -145 odds. He’s +110 odds to get selected #2.
Miller played a one-and-done season at Alabama. He was named the SEC Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. He was also a consensus second-team All-American.
Pelicans Eye Scoot, Hornets Want Ingram
The Hornets already have a star point guard with LaMelo Ball, which is why they’re not interested in Henderson. They interviewed Henderson and Miller in the last week, and were leaning toward drafting Miller because he’s a forward.
The Pelicans love Henderson, which is why they want to work out a trade with the Hornets for the #2 pick. The Hornets were linked to Ingram and Williamson from the Pelicans, yet fans in New Orleans prefer to run it back one more season with their star forwards.
Shams Charania from The Athletic weighed in on trade rumors during a stint on the Pat McAfee Show.
What I have heard is, I don’t know if the Hornets would want Zion Williamson,” said Charania. “The Hornets want, from what I’m told, is Brandon Ingram.”
The Pelicans are willing to trade Williamson to the Hornets, but they want to keep Ingram. The Hornets want Ingram but are allegedly not interested in Williamson.
The Pelicans selected Williamson with the #1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Los Angeles Lakers selected Ingram with the #2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Ingram spent three seasons with the Lakers before they traded him to the Pelicans in the blockbuster deal for Anthony Davis.
Ingram averaged 24.7 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds last season. He also shot 39% from 3-point range. He missed almost half the season with a toe injury, but he’s more durable than Williamson.
Zion’s Health Woes Sink Trade Value
ESPN floated a hypothetical trade in which the Pelicans would get the #2 pick and forward Gordon Hayward in exchange for Williamson and a 2025 first-round pick (via the Milwaukee Bucks).
Williamson played his collegiate ball at Duke, so he could return to North Carolina if the Pelicans trade him to the Hornets. He was an internet sensation during his high school days in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is located only 75 miles away from Buzz City.
Williamson appeared in only 114 games since joining the Pelicans. He missed the entire 2021-22 season while recovering from a foot injury. Williamson appeared in 29 games in 2022-23 and missed 53 games with a hamstring injury.
When Williamson is healthy, he’s an All-Star caliber player. The Pelicans were in first place in the Western Conference last December, led by a healthy Williamson. He averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game in the first quarter of the season, and earned a spot on the All-Star team.
Williamson went down with a right hamstring injury in the first week of January. He was projected to miss only three weeks but was sidelined for the remainder of the season. He suffered multiple setbacks in his rehab and reaggravated his hamstring injury. In March, Williamson was rumored to return prior to the postseason, but was never cleared by the Pelicans.
Without Williamson, and with Ingram nursing a toe injury, the Pelicans imploded and finished in 10th place in the West with a 42-20 record. The Pelicans ultimately missed the playoffs when they were knocked out of contention after a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the play-in tournament.
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