The Chicago-based combine has produced a few storylines to follow before the 2024 NBA Draft (June 26-27) decides where the newest batch of prospects will start their professional adventures. The fates of many soon-to-be draftees depend largely on the trade market brewing up for All-Stars like Brandon Ingram. The New Orleans Pelicans may not have the number one overall pick, yet. Still, the front office is most definitely on the clock when creating a championship situation around Zion Williamson.

There are arguments for some organizations to avoid a weak 2024 NBA Draft class altogether. The draft's top-end talent and depth are unimpressive at best. The Pelicans need help now and cannot afford to waste millions in cap space on a rookie with no real pathway to meaningful playing time. However, there are three international prospects worth looking at if New Orleans parts ways with Ingram or Dyson Daniels.

Pelicans searching for big like Alexandre Sarr

The Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks have had chats around a creative deal for Ingram that can be traced back to last season's trade deadline. The Hawks can now sweeten their offer for Ingram by dangling the first overall pick.

New Orleans needs a big man, and a back-up plan, to work beside Williamson. Well, the 7'1”Alexandre Sarr is as close to a sure-fire rotational piece that could turn into an All-Star that this class has to offer.

There is almost no comparison in this draft as Sarr is a unanimous top-three pick. The 6'10” Zaccharie Risacher is also in the running to be the first name Adam Silver calls on June 26 but there is a reason some well-respected mock drafts have him dropping out of the top 10. Risacher also plays a more wing-based game whereas Sarr can serve more as a defensive safety net in the paint behind Williamson.

Former Hawks guard Jeff Teague believes a Dejounte Murray for Ingram deal is in the works, via the Club 520 podcast. Some league insiders are leaking that Ingram has more value than Trae Young though. Others say Ingram's market is mild. Still, surely the Pelicans would be squeezing more out of the deal than a straight Ingram for Murray swap. Either way, if the number one pick is in play Sarr should be playing in the Crescent City next season.

Kicking decision on Dyson Daniels down the road

Make no mistake, Dyson Daniels has done little wrong on his way to posting elite defensive numbers over the past two seasons. Well, maybe that missed free throw against the Los Angeles Lakers, but rookie mistakes are apt to happen at the worst times.

The 21-year-old showed improvements while logging over 1,300 minutes this season. The Australian was 13th in steals per game (1.4) but has been stuck at around 31% shooting accuracy from three-point range. He has just enough defensive upside to not wind up in Willie Green's doghouse but has stagnated on offense to the point of being unplayable in big moments.

That's not what the Pelicans need from a former lottery pick going into a third professional season. If a team in the top eight of the draft calls and Nikola Topic is available, New Orleans has to listen. The front office also has to include Daniels in the deal.

Topic has far more offensive polish and a 6'7” frame that will hold more muscle. He also shoots 31% from beyond the arc. The team would just be moving from one prospect to another, but the extra financial and team control cannot be ignored.

Neither can Topic's upside. Topic has a sturdier build and a more NBA-ready game than Stephon Castle. He is also a year younger. His wingspan (7'0”) is over ten inches wider than Rob Dillingham's (6'2”). Daniels might need a change of scenery ala Nickeil Alexander-Walker. If the Pelicans want to invest in another lead guard lottery ticket, Topic should be the topic of conversation.

Big move for Matas Buzelis brings risks

Team Detlef forward Matas Buzelis, right, of the G League Ignite celebrates with a teammate after hitting the winning shot during a Rising Stars semifinal game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Feb. 16, 2024 in Indianapolis.

Matas Buzelis may not have explosive athleticism that shoots off the charts. But just watch him play. Buzelis is a feel-for-the-game professional basketball player at 19 years old. He is a 6'11”, 190-pound work in progress, but if he pans out a multi-year All-Star is not out of the question. The question is though, how big of a gamble can the EVP David Griffin-led front office take this summer?

The Pelicans need shooters around Zion Williamson. Opposing defenses will ignore Buzelis on the offensive perimeter. He is shooting under 30% from three-point range and may never be better than 2020-21 Jaxson Hayes from the corner (35%). Still, Buzelis just looks far better as an eighth-overall pick.

The 19-year-old is also far more confident when handling the ball or being asked to be part of actions on both ends of the court. He has a soft touch, above-average vision, can lead a break, and knows how to make on-the-fly adjustments to help make winning plays.

If Ingram is moved and the Pelicans wind up with a pick in the 5-8 range, Buzelis has to be considered. His best outcomes fit the organization's blueprint and is young enough to retain value over the three seasons.