Normally this time of year I’m busting out my NBA Draft review, Bill Simmons style. In fact, that was how version 1.0 of site began.
I’ll mix things up a bit this year. I’ll admit I’m not nearly as interested in this year’s draft as in the ’08 selections. Some of that has to do with the fact there are no Jayhawks in this year’s draft where there were at least 50 in last year’s.* But also because I believe I watched a grand total of 15 minutes of the NBA this past year, and very little non-KU college ball. So I’m lacking some of the background that I usually have.
- I think someone even draft the rights to Wilt late in the second round, just in case.
I am interested in one pick, though. I’m eager to see what Larry Bird does with the Pacers’ #13 pick. Once again the Pacers weren’t good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to get into the lottery. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in this, an epically weak draft year. But being stuck in this same spot two straight years with no first round pick the year before that is not the way to rebuild the organization.
Looking back, Bird gets a B-/C+ for last year’s draft. Late in the season, once he got minutes and confidence, Brandon Rush proved he’s an NBA player and a perfect compliment to Danny Granger*. No one expected Roy Hibbert to be great, and his first year play affirmed the fact he’s not going to be much more than a big body that can maybe grab a few boards and offer six fouls to burn through.
- 18.3 ppg over his last ten games, with two 29 point efforts.
It’s a team in need of size, a franchise point guard, and another shooter. Perhaps most of all, they need a player that is going to step in and contribute. The Pacers are hemorrhaging money, Conseco Fieldhouse is facing its own financial issues, and there are persistent rumors that the Simon brothers, who own the team, may be looking to sell if things don’t turnaround soon. There is allegedly an interested party in Vancouver and both Kansas City and Seattle would love to grab a team. The Pacers’ future in Indianapolis may rest more on getting a solid if unspectacular player who can play 80 games than on drafting a talent with potential that may not develop for 3-4 years.
With that in mind, here is my ranking of the players the Pacers should consider.
1 – Jordan Hill, F Arizona.
2 – Jonny Flynn, G Syracuse.
Neither of these guys are going to be available, but if by some miracle either slipped to 13, they would be my top choices. Hill is tough, can rebound, and is athletic. Flynn is the same thing, just packed into a guard’s body. Either player would make the Pacers better.
3 – Eric Maynor, G VCU. This is who I think the Pacers should take. He’ll step in and play from day one, is good on both ends of the court, and will turn into a solid point guard. He’ll never be an All NBA first teamer, but neither will be a bust.
4 – Jeff Teague, G Wake Forest. Feel good story, the local kid ends up playing for his hometown NBA team. Teague still needs to develop, but he can do it on the court. Perhaps as important as his NBA readiness is the feel-good angle he gives a franchise that is still trying to win the city back after the Artest/Jackson/Tinsley era.
5 – Earl Clark, F Lousiville. Not a true big at this point, but he fits well with the Pacers’ current offensive style, and certainly has room to gain weight and strength to turn into a more traditional NBA big.
6 – Brandon Jennings, G Italy. This is the tipping point. No one doubts Jennings’ raw ability. But he didn’t exactly light things up in his year in Europe, and there are questions about his maturity and work ethic. If the Pacers were stocked with talented veterans and had time to break in a raw talent like Jennings, he would be the easy pick. But given their current state, I don’t see them taking him.
7 – DeJuan Blair, F Pittsburgh. There was a lot of Blair buzz for awhile, but it has faded a bit. He’s wide, strong, has a huge wing span, and a good chemistry guy from what I understand. But he’s not that big (6’7ish”) and allegedly lacks ACLs. Another guy they can’t risk taking.
8 – Tyler Hansborough, F UNC. I’ve been anti-Ty for a long time, for many reasons. And I’ve always maintained he was going to be an awful pro. We saw on April 5, 2008 what happens when he plays against guys who are bigger, stronger, and more athletic than he is.
But apparently he’s worked out well and GMs are falling in love with him. The more I think about it, the more I see him having a Nick Collison type career. Nick averaged nine and nine a season ago and is a 8.2, 6.9 player for his career. That’s solid and offers a lot of flexibility. But the Pacers don’t need to waste a first round pick on a guy who’s going to be a back-up for most of his career. They’ve done that enough this decade.
There are a few other options, Ty Lawson for example, but I expect the Pacers to pick one of these players. If they get Hill, Flynn, Maynor, or Teague I’ll be pleased. Clark and Jennings are intriguing, Blair and Hansborough concerning. The clock’s ticking, Larry.