The New Orleans Pelicans were a part of the biggest trade that went down on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft. After Nerlens Noel dropped in the draft, the Pelicans snatched him up with the sixth overall pick. However, the quickly flipped him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Jrue Holiday and the Sixers’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Outside of that franchise-changing move, the Pelicans also completed a sign-and-trade that landed them Tyreke Evans. In the deal, New Orleans also received the big rookie center out of Kansas, Jeff Withey, via the third team in the trade, the Portland Trail Blazers.
Because of the moratorium that didn’t end until July 10, Withey wasn’t officially with the Pelicans until after that time. Because of that, he was unable to play in New Orleans’ first game at the Las Vegas NBA Summer League. Now that the deal is officially done, though, Withey has taken the floor in their last two games at Summer League.
Withey hasn’t had much of an impact offensively and hasn’t seen the floor that much. Through two games, he’s averaged just 16 minutes per game and has only averaged 4.5 points per game on 4-8 shooting. What has caught the eye of quite a few people, though, is Withey’s ability on the defensive end of the floor.
In his limited playing time, Withey has still managed to average four rebounds and two blocks per game. Two blocks in just 16 minutes per game is absolutely fantastic, even for a guy in Summer League.
In the deal that landed the Pelicans Withey, New Orleans sent Robin Lopez packing. With that move, that seemingly signaled that the team is planning to put Anthony Davis at the center position in the upcoming season. However, Davis is going to need some relief and the coaches may still want to use him at the power forward, which means Withey could see some playing time at center.
Through his brief time in Vegas, it’s become clear that Withey isn’t going to set the world on fire offensively, but it’s also hard to deny his instincts defensively. If he can provide the Pelicans with solid frontcourt minutes off of the bench, that would be huge for them going forward.