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Draft Looms, Who Will Pacers Pick?

Tomorrow night’s NBA Draft will be an exciting event for the Indiana Pacers.  They have the 15th (and 42nd) pick in what is considered a relatively weak draft, and no one really has any idea who they are going to pick.  There’s no chance the Pacers are going to get the only two players considered ‘sure things’, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, who are projected to go 1 and 2 (ie Cleveland and Minnesota).  

Earlier, Larry Bird shot down rumors that the Pacers were packaging the 15th pick and Roy Hibbert for the 2nd pick to get Williams. 

“We’re not doing that,” Bird said. “I’m not interested in trading Roy. Roy is one of our core guys.  The draft is a good draft, not a great draft. If there was somebody at 2 that we were really targeting that I think would make us a lot better, yeah, you’d have to do it. But I believe in Roy.”

Okay, so who are the potential candidates at 15?  (Let’s be honest, the 42nd pick is unlikely to make it through training camp at best, so we can forget about that one.)

Most expert and mock projections have the Pacers picking either BYU 6’2″ combo guard and top scorer Jimmer Fredette, or Providence 6’5″ shooting guard Marshon Brooks.  Interesting.

Looking at the Pacers roster right now, they pretty much have starters settled in every position.  Collison is the incumbent at point guard, George at shooting guard, Granger at small forward, Hansbrough at power foward and Hibbert at center.  I don’t see either Fredette or Brooks displacing George at shooting guard, unless they trade Granger and move George up to small forward.  Fredette and Brooks could get minutes off the bench, and it’s no secret that the Pacers have been shopping around Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush, two disappointing options at that position.

The other weak spot is probably power forward, especially if Josh McRoberts is not returning.  Hansbrough has only played roughly the equivalent of a single season, and even though he has potential, he is considered by most as an energy guy off the bench.  Jeff Foster is ageing and James Posey is too small and only shoots threes.  So if the Pacers go for a power forward, they might have a think about 6’9″ Tristan Thompson from Texas, though it’s hard to see Thompson getting significant minutes behind Hansbrough and the other veterans.

That’s the problem with this draft.  The Pacers are okay at all five starting positions but not great at any of them (unless you put Granger in that category).  But there’s no one that will be available at 15 that can really help the team out in a significant manner, even as a bench player.  The bench already has AJ Price at the point, Rush, Dahntay Jones and (possibly, if they re-sign him) Dunleavy at the wings and Posey (and potentially McRoberts and Foster if they are re-signed) as the bigs.  Oh, and there’s Lance Stephenson too.  Not exactly a great looking bench but unlikely to be substantially improved from the draft.

Larry Bird said they have narrowed their pick down to four players, two of which he believes will be available when the Pacers are on the clock.  Fredette is a shooter with unlimited range, but will his lack of size and relative lack of athleticism and defensive abilities hinder his performance in the NBA?  Is he another Adam Morrison waiting to happen?  He’s not even guaranteed to slip to 15 either, with Utah and Phoenix (12 and 13) showing interest in Jimmer and New York (17) potentially moving up in the draft just to get him.  Thompson’s stock has been rising in recent weeks but he is a senior and might not have as high of a ceiling.

My guess is the Pacers will take the best available player, and I think we might be in for a surprise.