At the 2013 NBA D-League Draft, the newly formed Delaware 87ers attempted to make a splash. By selecting the likes of Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Norvel Pelle, and Aquille Carr, the 87ers aimed to spearhead a new minor league movement.
Drafting such youngsters meant Delaware was interested in exploring each one's potential before the 2014 NBA Draft. By forgoing college and opting not to play overseas, each prospect was set to spend their mandatory year prior to pro draft eligibility in the NBADL.
Whereas Carr was released midseason, Antetokounmpo logged a solid campaign, and most recently impressed at the NBA Draft Combine earlier this month.
Like Antetokounmpo, Pelle also managed to spend the entire season with the 87ers. That said, his efforts weren't enough to turn as many heads and garner as much consideration. The big man fought through injuries all season long and played modest minutes. Appearing in 35 contests, the 21 year old averaged 5.5 points (on 51% from the field) and 3.1 rebounds in just 13.1 minutes per game.
At 6'10 and 210 pounds (with a 7'3" wingspan, to boot) Pelle is an interestingly physical specimen. Already a masterfully proven shot blocker, Pelle has the potential to be one of the better shot-blockers the NBA finds in the years to come. While that may be his niche, there's room to improve other aspects of his game as well.
In addition to having great hands, Pelle has the potential to pour the ball in the basket inside. He can already run the floor well, and has shown interesting flashes of being able to explode down in the low post. Big men with the ability to assert themselves physicality and take advantage down low offensively are often difficult to find.
Instead of exploring such a talent and tapping into that evident potential, the 87ers utilized Pelle in such a way to set screens and act as a decoy for the team's shooters and ball-handlers. In a team setting, this is quite alright, and perhaps as Pelle continues to come into his own as a professional athlete, that is in fact the role he'll go on to play in the NBA. But with so much intrigue surrounding such a young gun at this point in his career, why not explore what else he's able to do as well?
In any event, Pelle appeared to be underutilized throughout. Still, the potential is undoubtedly present. Despite this past season's injuries and modest numbers, he could still emerge as a young gun worth exploring for NBA teams in the weeks to come leading up to draft selection.