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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Enrique Freeman (Round 2: Pick 50):

Remember when I said the Pacers desperately lack defensive and rebounding help and were embarrassed on the boards this season? Enrique Freeman to the rescue! Freeman easily has the most interesting journey to the league. A walk-on at Akron University who initially had no intention of playing basketball, Freeman surprised everyone by scoring 22 points to go with 21 rebounds in the third game of his first full season, never missing a start after that.

Additionally, Freeman also made history with his draft selection, becoming the first Akron Zip to ever be selected in the NBA Draft since it moved to the two-round format in 1989. In general, Freeman was the first Zip to be drafted to the NBA since 1987 when Marcel Boyce was selected with the 122nd pick in the sixth round by the Phoenix Suns (never played in the NBA). Freeman is only the ninth player in Akron basketball history to be drafted to the NBA and only the 16th player to ever be drafted from the MAC conference since 1990.

Enrique Freeman is a monster on the defensive end and on the boards, making the MAC All-Defensive Team for the past three seasons in a row. This past season, Freeman's 18.6 points per game average ranked fifth in the MAC and he not only led the conference in rebounding but the entire NCAA with 12.9 per game, even beating out Zach Edey in averages.

Additionally, Freeman also ranked first in the MAC in blocks per game in 2023 as well as ranking first in total blocks this past season with a 1.7 per game average in addition to averaging an astounding four blocks in the MAC tournament. Long story short, Enrique Freeman is an outstanding rebounder and defender with amazing hustle, especially for a big man who measured in at only 6-foot-7.5 barefoot at the combine.

As an offensive player, Freeman has a very old-school skill set, with most of his points coming from post-ups and left-shoulder hook shots. His massive 7-foot-2 wingspan allows him to play much bigger than his frame would suggest, with his incredible athleticism and hustle helping him run down the floor and finish highlight dunks in traffic.

This athleticism and high motor led to Freeman ranking third in the MAC in minutes played this past season while leading them in games played, which happened as a result of Akron making the NCAA Tournament, led by Freeman, who also led the MAC in PER and win shares, both offensive and defensive, as well as box plus/minus. The advanced stats really favor this guy as you will see.

Additionally, while his jumper still looks a bit wonky, Freeman showed some developing touch as a shooter in the 2024 season, shooting 72% from the line, and an impressive 37% from deep on 1.5 attempts per game. It is worth noting that his jumper is rather unorthodox, with it coming from his shoulder and taking a bit too long to get off, however, it does improve from further out from the basket.

Nevertheless, if Freeman wants that jumper to keep developing in the league, he should work on a higher release point going forward, which makes it even better that he is going to the most prolific three-point shooting team in the league with shot doctors at his disposal.

The biggest concern about Freeman is his height. At only 6-foot-7.5 barefoot, he is short for a conventional NBA center. While his athleticism and hustle on the boards and running down the floor will help, as well as his length, he needs to develop some strength to give himself a shot sizing up against stronger post players at the power forward and center positions in the league.

Speaking of post-players, his post-defense can use some work and his footwork is lacking at times. However, the raw athleticism, hustle, rebounding, shot-blocking, post offense, and developing jumper make it more than worth it for the Pacers to take a flyer at him with the 50th pick.

Enrique Freeman is easily the biggest project selected by the Pacers this season, but, like the other two selected before him, he certainly has a future in the league. There is always a place for athletic, rebounding big men who can score around the rim, block shots, run up and down the floor, and shoot a bit.

In a way, Freeman may be the pick suited most to Indiana's needs this season, as he can come in and immediately help with their defensive and rebounding woes with his breakneck, pedal-to-the-medal style of play. There is still plenty of work to be done, and an argument can be made about his stats being discredited a little bit due to the lack of competition he faced, but there is definitely a spot in the league for Freeman going forward.

Final Grade: B+ (Raw prospect, but great talent, especially with Pick 50)