The Indiana Pacers could take a flier on this former top draft pick

Rick Carlisle - Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Carlisle - Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite losing seasons at large, the Indiana Pacers have been successful in recent years at finding talent in places where few teams willingly venture in. From the likes of Oshae Brissett and Duane Washington Jr., the front office has excelled in bringing in relative unknowns and transforming them into viable contributors on the floor.

Perhaps as a result of constant roster turnovers due to injury, the Pacers have become a resourceful organization, a trait that they could bank on this offseason to bolster their youth movement in the NBA Draft and in free agency and climb the league’s hierarchy in the succeeding seasons.

One free agent that Indiana could consider signing is big man Marvin Bagley III, the former second pick in the 2018 NBA Draft who has failed to live up to expectations, especially in comparison to stars from the same draft class. After a dispiriting tenure with the Sacramento Kings (no surprises there) and a brief stint with the Detroit Pistons, the 23-year-old now finds himself with an uncertain future.

The Indiana Pacers could bring back some oomph to Marvin Bagley III’s young career

Despite paling in comparison to Deandre Ayton, Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, notable standouts from the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley was taken at No. 2 for a reason. He may not go near that in a hypothetical re-draft, but his promise and potential at the time was inarguable.

The Indiana Pacers need frontcourt help in the offseason, and taking a flier on Bagley should easily be a low-risk, high-return move that could end up being a very wise gamble later on. His career numbers do not jump at you, but playing for the dysfunctional Kings, he at least deserves the benefit of doubt.

His defense remains a massive exploitable hole, but his offense is more than solid. Already an efficient and smooth rim runner, Bagley also has a respectable presence on the perimeter, and he remains above average as a rebounder, even on the offensive boards. Also, he’s a young, mobile big man, the type of player who should fit well in the Pacers’ offensive blueprint.

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In his short tenure with the Pistons, Bagley flashed his acuity as a roll man in pick and roll situations. This season, he poured in 1.36 points per possession in such plays, a mark that outclasses terrific rim runners like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis, and Rudy Gobert.

That could be a big selling point for the Pacers, as the team has incorporated a high-paced, pick-and-roll heavy attack led by Tyrese Haliburton‘s playmaking. With Bagley on the floor, Indiana will have a high-motor big man whose defensive shortcomings could be mitigated by having a rim protector like Myles Turner or Isaiah Jackson.

This possibility could be animated further if the Pacers somehow crash out of a top pick in the lottery. The free agency market for big men is quite stale, leaving most teams to settle with their in-house options instead.

Indiana is very likely to lose Jalen Smith and are unlikely to retain Goga Bitadze, making Marvin Bagley a solid prospect to gamble on. It also bears stressing that he is only 23 years old, making him a perfect fit for the roster’s timeline.

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