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The Pacers select…Miles Plumlee?!

The dust has settled and the verdict is in. The Pacers’ selection with the 26th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Duke senior Miles Plumlee, is widely regarded as one of the worst (or as some have said, most “laughable”) of the entire night. A D-, or at worst, an F, is what the majority of analysts have been giving the pick.

The general consensus is that Plumlee did not warrant a first round selection. He was tipped to be a second round guy, probably in the middle of that round. He is a white 7-footer with a 40-inch vertical but limited offensive skills. His averages at Duke in 2011-2012? 20.5 minutes, 6.6 points, 7.1 rebounds. Eek.

The Pacers, believe them or not, are describing Plumlee as their dream guy. The one they had their eyes on from the beginning. Their new Jeff Foster — that high-energy guy that will play solid D, grab a ton of boards and change the game with their hustle and dirty work. But Foster, who played four seasons at SW Texas, at least averaged a more respectable 28.1 minutes, 14.2 points and 11.1 rebounds as a senior.

I guess there are a couple of ways to dissect this pick. The first is that Larry Bird has decided to go out on a whimper in botching the pick. Guys such as Arnett Moultrie and Perry Jones III were still available, so there’s no excuse for picking this guy, whom many say isn’t even the best Plumlee on the team (that honor apparently goes to his brother Marshall). The guy is raw and extremely limited offensively. Plus his game did not take any huge strides during his four years at Duke, suggesting he might have already approached his ceiling as a player. At best, he offers an insurance policy in case Roy Hibbert decides to sign elsewhere. At best, he is a bigger, more defensive-minded but less offensively capable Tyler Hansbrough.

The other way to look at it is that the Pacers made a good pick. Sure, there have been great players, or at least very serviceable NBA starters, who have been selected late in the first round (George Hill, for instance, was selected at 26 by the Spurs), but the probability is relatively low. The Pacers weren’t going to find someone at 26 that could make a big splash on the team or take them to the next level. Instead, they did the safe thing by going for a guy that filled a need. It gives them a third energy guy off the bench (the other two being Hansbrough and Lou Amundson, if the latter re-signs as expected), and Plumlee would be the biggest and most athletic out of the three. Furthermore, even though Plumlee does not have eye-popping numbers, he reportedly tested extremely well during tests in Indiana. Perhaps his game will suit the NBA more than we expect?

The problem is, however, that many say the Pacers could have traded down and still gotten Plumlee, if he’s the one they were really after (although some sources suggested that other teams were looking to snatch him up first).

To be honest, I think Plumlee doesn’t hurt. They didn’t get a star or a likely star, but they got an Indiana native would works hard, brings energy, is a big body and very athletic for his size — PLUS he might be able to contribute right away. The Pacers are already a relatively young team, so getting a senior might be better for team chemistry. Plumlee can also battle Roy Hibbert in practice at force Hansbrough and Amundson to work even harder for minutes. I dunno, he might turn out to be better than first impressions.

The other guy the Pacers got on draft night was Orlando Johnson, the 36th pick whom the Pacers acquired from the Kings for cash. If you can get a draft pick for cash I guess it means they don’t think very highly of them.

Johnson is a 6’4″ guard with decent scoring capabilities but not much of a passer. Not sure how he helps the Pacers right now considering they’ve already got Lance Stephenson and Dahntay Jones. Another insurance policy should they find takers for Dahntay or if Stephenson loses his head again? Not sure.

Here are some of his highlights, though you gotta remember: everyone looks good in highlights.