Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) shows off the inside of his jacket after being selected as the number six overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The New Orleans Pelicans need to defy the odds at the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery to retain their first round pick. Unless the Pelicans land a top-three selection, they will have to send their pick to the Sacramento Kings.
Only the first round pick carried a top-three protection, meaning if the Pelicans can defy the odds, they can add a promising young prospect to pair with the frontcourt combination of Cousins and Anthony Davis.
In order to keep possession of its first round pick, New Orleans must land a top-three selection, if not, then the Kings choose in its place.
Here are the odds for every possible outcome at the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Only a four percent chance exists that New Orleans will be able to add a significant piece to its roster on June 22. If Tuesday’s lottery produces a result outside of the top-three, then the Pelicans won’t select until the 40th overall pick on draft night.
Since 1993, when the league revamped its system to determine the first three selections of the draft, the 10th pick has yet to catapult into a top-three selection.
The two biggest surprises of the draft lottery came during the 1990s. Charlotte pulled the most improbable leap, jumping from 13th to third in 1999, earning the right to select Baron Davis.
In 1990, Seattle earned the best outcome for any team with the 10th-worst record in the league, the same position New Orleans will be on Tuesday night, when it moved up to the second overall choice and landed Gary Payton.
The team with the seventh, eighth or ninth worst odds has ended up winning the draft lottery at least once since 1990. New Orleans is hoping the 10th-worst odds will join the list soon.
For a team bereft of assets, any chance of adding an elite prospect is one the team will savor.
The Pelicans face plenty of uncertainty, as starting point guard Jrue Holiday will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, while Cousins enters the 2017-18 seaosn playing on an expiring contract.
A top-three selection in the NBA Draft this summer could go a long way in fortifying the roster, as New Orleans could land a potential replacement for Holiday by selecting one of the numerous point guards set to enter the league.
The class of 2017 features plenty of players capable of filling voids on the Pelicans roster, with the top-7 picks in the draft projected to be either guards or forwards.
Point guards Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith or Frank Ntilikina could all be worthy of a top-5 selection next month. Each player could be a viable replacement for Holiday if the team chooses not to pursue him in free agency.
Holiday has been a solid contributor since being acquired during a draft-day trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 15.5 points, 6.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
The only concern with Holiday is just how much he will be able to contribute. His four-year stint with the Pelicans has featured just 206 games played, 92 fewer appearances than his four seasons with Philadelphia.
If the team prioritizes Holiday, then the team could add depth on the wing. Kansas forward Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum or Malik Monk of Kentucky could all immediately contribute for the Pelicans.
A 96 percent chance exists that Tuesday night will be a complete bust for New Orleans, as the Kings will acquire the pick if it lands anywhere outside of the top-three.