Pelicans Pick Kentucky Center Nick Richards 42nd Overall
The New Orleans started their 2020 NBA Draft night with a point guard in Kira Lewis Jr. and with their second-round pick, they go big-man in Nick Richards, a center from Kentucky.
This 6'11" junior from Kingston, Jamacia didn't play a lot his first two seasons at Kentucky for the Wildcats but put together a very strong junior year.
During his junior year, Richards averaged 14 points, eight rebounds, shot 64% from the field, played about 29 minutes per game, and averaged two blocks as well.
According to Nick Wheatley of SB Nation, he was being touted as a Pro prospect out of high school but his game took a little longer to develop than expected while with the Wildcats.
More from SB Nation's Sea of Blue here's what he does well:
"Richards is a long and athletic center that will likely make his living altering shots. But it doesn’t stop there. He’s improved tremendously as a rebounder, as he has learned to use his size in more ways than one. At 6-11 and 247 pounds, Richards can bang down low with the best of them.
Richards also has improved his jump shot and free throw percentage. Hs midrange game became dangerous as the year progressed last season and his free throw shooting was up to 75 percent."
The weakness of his game shake out like this:
"the biggest factor working against him is age, and that’s probably why you see him so low on NBA Draft boards. The Jamaican big man is already 23 years old, so while his progression is impressive, questions about how much better he can truly get will be a cause of concern for NBA GMs.
Moreover, Richards has improved tremendously on the offensive end, but you can’t help but feel like he’s still a bit mechanical in his approach. He struggled at times when opposing defenses took away his first move towards the basket and his hook shot, while improved, is still inconsistent.
He also lacks some basketball IQ, which is probably a factor of starting basketball so late in life. This is especially apparent in his rebounding and shot-blocking. Sure, his numbers were solid in those departments, but at his size and with his athleticism, he leaves something to be desired. Moreover, his passing needs to improve, especially out of double teams, as does his overall decision-making."
Not a bad move for the Pels as they needed a rim-protecting center and it seems like Richards can be that while he and last year's draft pick at center Jaxson Hayes grow.
Here's a look at some of his highlights from Kentucky via UK Reactions: