For those of you who are unaware, the NBA draft is this Thursday on ESPN starting at 7 pm. At least for me this feels really quick seeing the playoffs just ended this past Thursday night, but that may be due to the fact my attentiveness towards the NBA ends pretty closely to the end of the Pacers season, which this season happened to be much later than most years past. With the draft coming up, I have been keeping tabs on the mock drafts being conducted by what seems to be everybody and their mother. Now for the Pacers there has been a good deal of variability in whom they will select. Now part of this is due to the fact that they currently sit at the 23 pick, and with any draft, once the chips start to fall in the first few picks, anything can happen and probably will happen. After looking through somewhere on the order of 20 or so mock drafts, a few trends caught my eye.
First of all, most of the "experts" have the Pacers selecting a big man (read Center). While adding size to a Pacers team that, when they controlled the paint, were solid team isn't necessarily a bad thing, the Pacers have depth at the center position. Hibbert is under contract for 3 more years (at a max contract deal), behind him they have Ian Mahinmi (under a 3 year deal and was last seasons big acquisition) and last years outstanding first round pick Miles Plumlee (under contract for 1 more year guarenteed, then a restricted free agent for 2 years after that). In my opinion, and you can take it as just that, the Pacers don't need another center. While I wouldn't mind a big like Olynik out of Gonzaga who can step out and hit a shot when needed, you have to look at the roster and realize there just aren't a ton of minutes to be had at the Center position, even for a project like Withey out of Kansas.
I see the Pacers biggest needs, in no particular order, a true point guard to lead the second unit and allow Hill to slide over to the 2 from time to time depending on the desired rotation, a true scorer/lights out shooter for the bench because lets face it when the second unit was on the court, particularly in the playoffs, points were very hard to come by, and probably more on the would be nice, but not necessary list would be a guy to replace Tyler Hansborough. I know Psycho T is a big fan favorite in Indy, but he is just what his nickname implies... psycho. One of the biggest problems with Hansborough is that on any given night you don't know what you are going to get from him on the court. He could give you 10-15 points and/or boards one night, and on the next not register in the box score other than about 5 fouls and possibly a technical. In years past where he got more consistent minutes he would even out over a game, but he has not adjusted to the bench role well and well I think he is easily replaceable moving forward.
One of the problems facing the Pacers is that most of mock drafts have all of the first round quality point guards gone by the time the Pacers get around to picking. While this is by no means an end of the world circumstance, it does present a problem as that most feel that it is one of the Pacers biggest needs. The Pacers can, of course, alleviate this problem by making a trade or dipping into the free agent pool. The problem is the Pacers have a finite amount of resources and with Hibbert, Granger and Hill all occupying big contracts, team leader David West not under contract, and Paul George due for a raise in the very near future, a fair amount of the Pacers resources are already invested. This means that Pacers are likely going to be forced to make some tough decisions in the near future regarding personnel. So, I realize I am going to lose a few Pacers fans here, I think it is time for the Pacers to start looking at the trade market.
There have been rumors that several teams have interest in Danny Granger and if the Pacers don't seriously consider all of the deals, they are making a grave mistake. Rumors are that the Clippers have a great deal of interest in Granger and are willing to send the Pacers point guard Bledsoe as part of a deal in return (Bledsoe was highly coveted by the Celtics in the deal for Doc Rivers). Granger could also be dealt in an effort to add another draft pick or move up in the first round to fill a need. By moving Granger that would free up much needed cap space for the big deals the Pacers will need to make in the next few years, and there is no guarantee that Granger will be the same when he comes back next season. Knee injuries can really affect a player, and while Granger never beat people with his speed, the Pacers are expecting him to come back and be an outside threat. If the Pacers are really in love with a big, pairing a guy like Mahinmi, Plumlee or Hansborough in a deal would make sense as well. The Pacers continue to state how much they want to keep him. This may be a ploy to drive up the asking price, or they may be being serious. Only time will tell.
What the Pacers end up doing will be determined on Thursday night, but, no pressure on the Front Office, could have major ramification moving forward.
Thanks for reading guys,
-T.O. signing out