The 2014 NBA draft likely won’t be eventful for the Indiana Pacers. As it stands, they have only one second-round pick, the 57th overall selection.
Still, Larry Bird is no stranger to draft-day moves, and anything can happen. We asked some of our 8p9s scribes for their thoughts about the draft.
1. What is the Pacers’ biggest need in the draft?
Tim Sartori: A creator, ideally one who can also shoot. It’s rare to find a player late in the second round who can immediately come in and have a big impact, but it shouldn’t be too hard to pick up somebody who could bring a little offense off the bench for a few minutes a game.
Tim Donahue: They need shooting, but if they enter and leave Thursday night’s gala event with just the 57th pick, it’s really more of a question of “What can they get?” Assuming they’re able to re-sign Lance Stephenson, money will be tight, so there’s a roster spot to be had for the low, low price a late second rounder will command. They need to come away with a player who could become a solid bench player, regardless of skills or position. The current outlook has Indy spending all of their money on the starters, so the bench will be nothing but bargain basement.
Jalen Bishop: A player who can create off the dribble and put a regulation size basketball in the rim accurately. Someone to buoy a bench unit. Offense was an issue all season for the Pacers and a reserve who could supply immediate offense should be selected here.
Jared Wade: Shooting would be the biggest need that they could likely address with a late second rounder. Ballhandling/playmaking is high on the ¨want list,¨too, but that is harder to find at a ready-to-contribute level so depth in the draft.
2. Do you expect Larry Bird to make any draft-day deals?
Sartori: Not particularly, but I don’t think it’s out of the equation either. Bird doesn’t shy away from a bold move and is always ready to make a change that he believes will improve the team — regardless of who he has to move. There aren’t too many players on the roster who are locks to remain at Indiana, perhaps only Paul George and David West (and obviously Lance, too, if they re-sign him).
Donahue: Possibly, but nothing major. Bird’s M.O. is to wait around to see what’s available, and I think the most likely outcome is buying a second-round pick. There may be first-round picks for sale, but I don’t see a lot trading assets on the Pacers that could be used to land mid- to early-first rounders. The draft might be the time they look to make a splash by moving Roy Hibbert, but that seems unlikely.
Bishop: Possibly. Bird made a bold signing and trade a few months ago. If he likes a player who might be worth moving up in the draft for, then he should do it. Besides George and Stephenson (if he re-signs), the rest of the roster is tradable.
Wade: Yes. I doubt it will be anything major, but I could see Indiana moving up to, say, the 40th pick to get a guy that Bird likes. Given the current payroll situation, it would be very damaging for the Pacers to not add anyone useful on the cheap in this draft. They don´t need a Lance Stephenson-level gem, but they need a guy who can be at least a regular season rotation guy.
3. How bad does it look now that the Pacers traded their 2014 first-round pick, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee for Luis Scola?
Sartori: Bad — very bad — no matter which way you look at it. It’s reasonable to say that Plumlee and Green wouldn’t have lifted their play to the level they did in Phoenix, should they have remained in Indiana, but they did both prove they were talents who could thrive in the right situation, which Vogel clearly failed to create for them. Also, Scola was horrific for the Pacers this year.
Donahue: I’m sure it looks bad, but so what? The deal was made last summer, not now, and at the time, it made sense. It also still made sense in November, December, and into January, before the wheels fell off. Those wheels, might I add, were primarily attached to Hibbert and — to a lesser extent — the rest of the starters.
Bishop: Bad. There are fake scenarios I can come up with if the trade never goes down. Here’s my favorite: C.J. Watson, Green, Stephenson, Chris Copeland and Plumlee as the second unit. Tons of athleticism and speed. With two players that shot better than 40% from the arc this year, there could have been a lot of spacing for Stephenson to do damage.
Wade: It looks awful. Was it? I guess, yeah. But it was based on sound logic at the time, and Gerald Green looked more like salary cap weight than a guy who could contribute on a defensive-minded contender. There is no excuse for misidentifying Plumlee though. Indiana will be regretting giving him away for the next few years.
4. Who has been the worst Pacer draft pick in the past 10 years?
Sartori: Tyler Hansbrough, probably. I’ve got nothing against Psycho-T — and he certainly contributed a bit — but Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, and Jeff Teague were all picked within the next seven selections. It’s hard to justifying picking Hansbrough at #13 with names like those three getting picked shortly after.
Donahue: “Worst” depends so much on context. Hansbrough was taken over several players who have had better careers. Shawne Williams in 2006 was a complete bust, with Rajon Rondo going a few picks later. However, my favorite is James “Flight” White. I have to admire the absolute completeness of a failure that involved (a) trading three second-round picks, and (b) giving a two-year guaranteed contract above minimum to a player who was cut in training camp before his rookie season.
Bishop: Shawne Williams. The Pacers selected him with the 17th pick in the 2006 draft. The 21st pick in that draft? Rajon Rondo. The 24th pick? Kyle Lowry. After two seasons and only six starts, Indiana shipped him to Dallas for two second-round picks and Eddie Jones.
Wade: Hansbrough. The worst part is that they knew he was the wrong pick even when they took him. It was a marketing selection by a team that badly needed to win back fans and shed a ¨thug¨ image. Nobody in that draft looked the part of what Indiana was trying to sell at the time more than Tyler the gritty Tar Heel. What they really needed, however, was a point guard. And a bunch of good ones were still on the board.
5. Who has been the best Pacer draft pick in the past 10 years?
Sartori: Does Kawhi Leonard count? In all seriousness, Paul George. He copped a bit of flak late in the season due to unrealistic expectations after a hot start to the year, but George’s development since he was drafted has been spectacular. He was Indiana’s best player this season and will likely continue to be for years to come. Stephenson would also be a reasonable answer for this question – he was taken with the 40th pick in 2010
Donahue: “Best” — like “worst” — is a lot about context. Whatever the context, the Pacers’ best pick in the last decade is coming from the 2010 draft. George is the best player drafted, and probably wins this debate in most contexts. However, getting a starting level player from the 40th pick in the draft is a pretty nice piece of work — regardless of Stephenson’s other issues.
Bishop: George. He has developed into one of the top two-way players in the league at the age of 24 and could be the best player to suit up in a Pacer uniform by the time he hits 30.
Wade: Paul George. Because, like Manu Ginobili, ¨he´s Paul George.¨
Tags: Indiana Pacers