Indiana Pacers Post-Draft Grades: The Good, The Bad, and the Guards

Jarace Walker, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Jarace Walker, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Ladies and gentlemen, the 2023 NBA Draft is officially in the books. At the time of this article being written, it is 2 AM on June 23rd, 2023 and the 2023 NBA Draft has just concluded. 2 rounds and 58 picks later, 30 NBA teams now have a few more players on their roster to worry about, including the Indiana Pacers, who made some noise in the draft world and shook up their roster a bit on draft night including a few trades and a few picks. I came into the draft with some optimism, but also some skepticism, as although this is Indiana’s third straight year drafting in the lottery, they tend to have a habit of settling with older, more experienced players with lower ceilings as opposed to younger, higher ceiling players, a la Chris Duarte in 2021. What also caught my eye before the draft were some rumblings among the league that the Pacers were willing to trade their lottery pick in exchange for a “high-level wing player” as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst put it.

There were also the usual talks from Lakers fans that were centered around Myles Turner and Buddy Hield that at this point are a formality to be repeated every few months, despite Turner’s recent contract extension and clear desire to stay in Indiana for the long term.

That being said, Indiana entered the draft season with picks 7, 26, 29, 32, and 55. That’s a total of 5 picks, however, the Pacers only had 3 roster spots, and obviously couldn’t make all 5 picks without having some sort of roster overload problem, with Kevin Pritchard himself even saying “We have three first-round picks. We will have two second-round picks… I don’t want to bring in five young kids into this organization.” With this being said, trades were imminent, and there were a few of them.

The Trades:

Since Indiana just didn’t have enough roster spots to make all their picks, they had to make some moves, the first of which was before draft night, with the Pacers sending the 29th and 32nd picks from Boston and Houston, respectively, to the Denver Nuggets in return for a 2024 first-round pick from the Thunder and the 40th pick. With that trade, Indiana was down to 4 picks in the draft, still one more than the number of roster spaces they had. With the second trade, Indiana traded their newly acquired 40th pick to the LA Lakers in exchange for the 47th overall pick and cash considerations, roughly $4.35 million to be exact. The belief with this trade was that it would be easier to convince a late second-round pick to sign a two-way contract and therefore not take up a roster spot. This left the Pacers with 4 draft picks and a decent sum of money gained. With the trades made, there was nothing left to do, but make the selections and watch the future of the team take shape

So without further ado, let’s get into these selections!