Each year the NBA draft makes basketball players dreams into reality. And each year those young, talented players help shape and contribute to a team’s success, and yes, at times failures. But nonetheless, every team looks for that someone special to help round out their talent, and the Indiana Pacers are no exception to that rule.
Although injuries have plagued his 2012-2013 season, Danny Granger was a high draft pick for the Pacers back in 2004. They’ve also added key players to their roster with picks such as Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George and Lance Stephenson. And those pivotal players have allowed the Pacers to gain success this season, which yes a good thing, puts the Pacers near the rear of the draft.
However, making key moves and potential to trade up could allow the Pacers to select that special player that will help in areas in that have been a bit grim this season. So here are five players (in no particular order) I think could be good for the Pacers heading into the 2013-2014 season:
1. CJ McCollom | SG, Lehigh
CJ McCollom is projected to go high in the lottery, but if so I think it would be smart to make some trades. This 21-year-old two time Patriot League Player of the Year has proven his worth. No one has forgotten about Duke’s early exit in the tourney in March of 2012 already have they? No they have not, and McCollom was a major factor in that takedown scoring 30 points. I am going to be very honest in saying that the fact that McCollom, who was projected to go high in last year’s draft also, decided to say and continue his education. He then explained his reasoning as to why in an article he wrote himself for The Sporting News. He is smart. He can move around the court with great ball handling skills. And his shooting ability can be just what is needed to help beef up the Pacers stat sheets in the future.
2. Allen Crabbe | SG, California
Predicted to go in the later half of the first round, Allen Crabbe could be just the outside shooter the Pacers are looking for, an area in which was lacking this past season shooting one of the lowest percentages behind the arc in the league. Crabbe may have a few areas that need improvement, mainly his ball handling skills and overall killer instinct, which he himself mentioned needed help, but his 3-point shooting and mid-range jumpers. On the defensive end Crabbe has shown some weakness, but with continual work at the next level Crabbe’s speed can help him develop into the shooting guard the Pacers desire.
3. Deshaun Thomas | SF/PF, Ohio State
Deshaun Thomas knows Indiana basketball. Just a few weeks ago I saw him in the stands at a Pacers game. Growing up and playing high school basketball in Fort Wayne, Ind. before going to play at Ohio State lets the Pacers front office know the dedication to the importance of basketball in Indiana. But besides knowing that he “gets it” they know how explosive of a shooter he is. Being able to score in a versatile manner is one of Thomas strong points. He was one of the leading scorers in the Big Ten, arguably the best conference in college basketball. His outside scoring has been most of his highlight reel, but he does not hesitate to go one-on-one and attack the rim. Combine his catch and shoot ability with his follow through and with some workouts with those at the next level Thomas could be a strong addition to any NBA team. In addition, we have seen with our own eyes the maturity that Thomas has reached in his time at Ohio State, so growing and getting the ability to play at the next level will only increase that.
4. Tony Mitchell | PF, North Texas
A college stand out that might not get as much attention as he deserves is Tony Mitchell. This power forward is a rebounding machine and has the ability to defend both forward positions. With Mitchell, as opposed to the others I have selected for the Pacers, his on court presence is highly defensive over offensive. His shooting needs some work, but his body is built like a pro. With an impressive 7′ 3″ wingspan in the PF role he is able to block and finish baskets around the rim. His physical presence and size are in his favor, it is just up to him to put in the extra effort and become more consistent on both ends of the court when he makes it to the next level.
5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | SG, Georgia
Some say that Caldwell-Pope may live and die by his jump shot, but when he is shooting amongst the top five of pull-up shooters in college basketball (according to Synergy Sports Tech) this year who says that is a bad thing? He is in company with the likes of Michigan’s Trey Burke and Miami’s Shane Larkin’s who shooting ability was all too often talked about. On the defensive end he has shown the ability to protect in the wing position and the desire to put in the work to develop his off-ball defending. Although Georgia ended the season 15-17 (9-9 SEC) Caldwell-Pope became the first Georgia player to win the SEC Player of the Year since 1981.