Indiana Pacers Post-Draft Grades: the good, the bad, and the Aussie

The Indiana Pacers drafted three players in the 2024 NBA Draft, all in the second round. Let's take a minute to grade these selections.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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Johnny Furphy (Round 2, Pick 35):

Man, what a steal.

One look at some mock drafts before June 26th will tell you that Johnny Furphy should not have fallen past the top 20, much less to the second round. Most if not all mocks had Furphy going at least top 20 so when he left the green room after the first round without a home, it was very surprising.

However, watching the second round from his home ended up giving him a fair shake, as he watched a ready-made playoff team trade up a spot to get him, with the Pacers making a deal with the San Antonio Spurs to move up one pick and give them some cash to select Furphy with the 35th overall pick.

I already did a full article where I break down Johnny Furphy's game and come to the conclusion that he can help Indiana from Day 1 if necessary and that he is an absolute home run for the future, so I won't go into too much detail in this one. I will, however, summarize the key parts of Furphy's game and show what he can bring to Indy now and down the line.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Furphy's game is his scoring ability, both shooting-wise and at the rim. Looking at the film from Kansas and the combine shows that Furphy's jumper will easily translate to the NBA. A quick and high release point led him to make 36.4% of his NBA-level threes in college, although 72 of them were from the corner.

Sure enough, Furphy thrives more as a spot-up shooter, as he shot 44.2% on unguarded catch-and-shoot threes at Kansas but only 10.5% on threes off a screen and 16.7% on off-the-dribble threes. This is to say that Furphy is a work in progress as a movement shooter but can hit the open three when called upon, which is boosted by his relentless off-ball movement and activity without the ball, which means he does not need the ball in his hands to be effective on offense.

As a finisher, Furphy made his name as an efficient rim scorer, making 44/55 of his shots at the rim prior to the NCAA tournament, good for 80%. Despite being rather slight and slender, with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and only weighing in at 190 pounds, he drew contract rather easily at Kansas, especially for a late-bloomer freshman.

Furphy also has something in common with Pacers swingman Bennedict Mathurin, in that he knows how to draw contact and get to the line, with his free throw rate of .393 ranking seventh in the Big 12. It's very surprising to watch the rather slander Furphy exhibit a soft touch around the rim and show plenty of crafty below-the-rim finishes at his disposal.

Another intriguing aspect of Furphy's scouting report is his ability to rebound the ball at a high level. His explosiveness comes into play here, with his ability to launch off his back foot helping him cut into spaces for offensive rebounds the same way it helps him finish at the basket.

His height is enough to pull down certain rebounds, while his feel for the game and high ball IQ, as well as his willingness to fight on the glass and box out, gets him other rebounds. He has some strength issues to work on down the line, but it's a great foundation.

Furphy's defense is a work in progress and easily the most unpolished part of his game. He can be a bit slow-footed and upright on that end, which leads to him getting beaten by quicker players quite a lot, and he is a pretty bad screen navigator as well as inconsistent on drives due to his lack of lower body strength.

However, the effort is most certainly there. He is very active with his hands and good at picking his opponent's pockets by keeping his hands up, which also leads to him getting some timely blocks due to his height. Furphy is also a solid help defender, with his awareness allowing him to help on a double team while keeping focus on his man. By no means is Furphy a finished product, far from that in fact, but a project with potential on that end for sure.

'Project' is the term that will be used for a while with Furphy. While he can help Indiana improve with their strengths, and the Pacers have plenty of offensive talent to mask his weaknesses, which include movement shooting and ball handling, they will most likely have to bring him along slowly.

Born on December 7, 2004, Furphy entered the draft as one of the youngest prospects on the board but one of the most promising. An unfortunate series of events led to him leaving the green room without a home after the first round, but now he finds himself on arguably the perfect offensive team for him with an opportunity to contribute in the current day and in the future. The Pacers got an arguably lottery talent without trading up, and that will always get a good grade. Fantastic pick, and I can't wait to see what Furphy does in blue and gold.

Final Grade: A (Amazing value, arguably the steal of the draft)