The Indiana Pacers will enter the NBA Draft Lottery with a 29.3% chance at moving from the 7th pick to the top 4. The team with the 7th best odds has moved into top 4 pick range each of the last 5 consecutive years, including Sacramento one year ago. They spent the 4th pick in the 2022 draft on Keegan Murray–the standout rookie that rounded out their roster and helped them earn a playoff berth. With some lottery luck, the Pacers may find themselves in position to do the same.
First Overall Pick (6.8% odds): Victor Wembanyama, PF/C, France:
If the Pacers land the first overall pick in the 2023 draft, they’ll select Victor Wembanyama, the 7’2″ phenom from France. This pick is a no-brainer. Wembanyama may be the best NBA prospect we’ve ever seen, and landing him would set the franchise up for perennial title contention.
Trade Potential: 0/10, Never in a million years
Trading the first overall pick in this draft would be basketball malpractice. The team picking first this year will walk away with a generational prospect. There are exactly zero scenarios in which this pick would be traded.
Second pick (7.1% odds): Scoot Henderson, G, G-League Ignite:
Scoot Henderson should be the second pick in the draft despite recent conversation nodding to Brandon Miller of Alabama. Henderson’s talent as a dynamic combo-guard would be enough to launch him into first overall pick territory if he wasn’t sharing a draft class with the likes of Victor Wembanyama. The thought of adding another guard to a backcourt already occupied by Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin may make some Pacers’ fans uneasy, but Scoot is the best player available at 2.
Trade Potential: 3/10, Very Unlikely, but higher likelihood than picks 3 or 4
If the Pacers landed pick 2, they could explore trades for elite wing players or later lottery picks. Scoot Henderson being a ball-dominant guard creates a difficult situation for the Pacers. His fit with Haliburton and Mathurin could be clunky, leading them to trade off the pick for other pieces that mesh better with the current personnel. It’s neither likely nor advisable, but it is a possibility to consider.
Third pick (7.5% odds) and Fourth pick (7.9% odds): Brandon Miller, F, Alabama OR Amen Thompson, F, Overtime Elite:
Picks 3 and 4 are less predictable. Brandon Miller and Amen Thompson are similarly talented players, but they’re better equipped to play in different systems due to their individual strengths. Both prospects are abundantly athletic and have traits on offense that project each will be potent scorers. Thompson has more potential as a shot creator, however, and boasts an impressive ability to handle the ball for a player of his size. Miller is hands-down a better overall shooter than Thompson. Both have great defensive feel which creates a good amount of two-way upside, and they’ll likely lean on their defensive abilities to be impactful in the early years of their careers. The order they’re drafted in will be mostly dependent on the stylistic preferences of the team drafting 3rd.
Trade Potential: 1/10, Future value outweighs value of trade offers
Aside from the first overall pick, pick 3 or 4 would be the dream scenario for the Pacers. It eliminates the hesitancy around Scoot Henderson’s fit and preserves the opportunity to leave the draft with a franchise cornerstone. The chances of them trading either of these picks is slim considering the player selected here could round out their starting lineup and be on the same timeline as the rest of the core. The Pacers are a team lacking wing depth, so either of these players would meet an immediate need.
The Indiana Pacers have never received the first pick in the draft, and they haven’t picked in the top 5 since selecting Rik Smits in 1988 (Basketball Reference). A jump into the top 4 picks of this draft could carry generational potential for a young and promising team.
The NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 16th at 8:30pm on ESPN.
Odds via Tankathon.