Keyonte George

Keyonte George averaged 15.3 points per game as a freshman at Baylor. (Associated Press)

The New Orleans Pelicans hold the No. 14 pick in the upcoming draft. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at New Orleans’ potential targets in our prospect profile series. Baylor guard Keyonte George is the third player in this series.

Keyonte George was the second-leading scorer on one of college basketball’s best offensive teams. The Baylor Bears finished second in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to George, a 6-foot-4 freshman, averaged 15.3 points per game.

George is one of the 2023 draft class’ best shot-makers off the dribble. His creation ability is why the 19-year-old combo guard is a fringe lottery prospect. The Athletic had George going No. 18 to the Miami Heat in its most recent mock draft. ESPN rated him as its 16th-best prospect.

The Pelicans hold the final lottery pick. Is it possible they could use it on George, a score-first guard?

Offensive talent apparent

In his one season in Waco, Texas, George showed impressive scoring ability. George has a nice-looking jumper. He is a righty with good balance and a good release. He snaps his wrist hard when he lets go of the ball.

George shot 33.8% on nearly seven attempts per game from 3-point territory. He seems as comfortable firing jumpers off the dribble as he does spotting up. When George was in a rhythm, there was no coverage that could keep him from raining in jumpers. He loves fooling defenders with hesitations, crossovers and step-backs and firing shots up.

George is not a pure point guard, but he has potential as a playmaker. At times, he showed impressive passing ability in pick-and-roll situations and in transition.

The key for George is to become a more efficient player. He shot just 37.6% from the field at Baylor, and he averaged more turnovers per game (2.9) than assists (2.8). George’s defense was also inconsistent. He must figure out a way to impact games when his shot isn’t going down at the next level.

Fit on the Pelicans

The Pelicans’ offense fell off a cliff after Zion Williamson injured his hamstring in early January. They finished the season ranked 20th in points scored per 100 possessions. Their struggle to generate quality looks without their best player left some in the organization feeling like the team needed to add creators in the offseason.

Adding George would be an attempt to increase the overall offensive talent on the roster. George could serve as understudy to CJ McCollum at first. He would get plenty of open looks playing next to the trio of Williamson, McColllum and Brandon Ingram, and in time, he could carry some of the offensive load himself. 

The Pelicans have taken three guards in the first round since executive vice president David Griffin came aboard in 2019. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the 17th pick in 2019, was traded last year, and Kira Lewis Jr., the 13th pick in 2020, has yet to pan out. Dyson Daniels had a strong rookie season on the defensive end but still looks raw on the offensive end. The Pelicans have not yet been able to draft and develop a guard who positively impacts them offensively. George could be the first. 

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