As promised, here is a quick round up of the Indiana Pacers' 2010 NBA Draft and what I thought of it.
Everything pretty much went according to plan on 24 June 2010 when Washington selected John Wall with the first pick and Philadelphia picked Evan Turner.
The focus leading up to the draft for the Pacers was a selecting a PG of the future. Well, they did select a PG, but it wasn't a point guard. With the 10th overall pick, the Pacers selected Paul George, a small forward from Fresno State.
Then in the second round, they picked up shooting guard Lance Stephenson with the 40th overall pick. They then traded up with the 57th pick (acquired through the Shawne Williams deal) and cash to Oklahoma City to acquire Magnum Rolle, a power forward, with the 51st overall pick.
So instead of the point guard of the future, the Pacers ended up with a small forward, a shooting guard and a power forward, the three most stacked positions on the roster.
From an overall perspective, this was a disappointing draft for me. I, like most Pacers fans, expected the franchise to pick a point guard like Eric Bledsoe (Wall's running mate at Kentucky) or Avery Bradley (from Texas), the second best options after John Wall.
However, the Pacers didn't feel either player was worth the 10th pick and they didn't deem it necessary to (or weren't able to) trade down for them.
Paul George has already signed a two-year deal, and while neither second rounder has inked in a deal yet, it looks like they are all here to stay, at least for now.
Originally, I expected the Pacers to make a few moves during the free agent signing period (which has commenced), but this is looking increasingly unlikely.
So unless a miracle can be pulled off with some amazing trade or signing, it looks like the Pacers are stuck with TJ Ford for another year, who we all know is not the answer at point guard and never will be. Earl Watson will probably be gone shortly, and in any case, he wasn't the solution either. Lance Stephenson could play some PG (and has been trialled at that position in camp), but few expect him to be capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA.
In a Bleacher Report article I prepared a while back, I named George as one of the most underrated prospects of the draft. But I didn't expect any team, least of all the Pacers, to select him as high as number 10.
Don't get me wrong, George is a solid pick with upside. He can shoot with range, take it too the basket, and can be a capable defender in the league. At 6-9 and and 214 lbs, he has an NBA body. The sophomore from Fresno State averaged 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season. I even said he could be this year's Danny Granger.
The problem is, the Pacers already have a Danny Granger on the team. At the wing positions they also have Mike Dunleavy Jr, Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush. Unless one or two of these guys go, where are they going to find playing time for this promising player who is supposed to "contribute right away?"
Or does this mean Danny Granger is now likely to be traded? Unless he can get the team someone like Chris Paul (super unlikely), I highly doubt it.
The Pacers were surprised that a player of Stephenson's calibre was still available at the 40th pick, so they snapped him up. There is a good reason why the freshman from Cincinatti, who was ranked coming up in roughly the same class as Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair, slipped so much in the draft: teams think he is bad news.
Stephenson has had a few run-ins with the law before, which is what makes this pick such a head scratcher as Larry Bird had been desperately getting rid of knuckleheads the last couple of years.
To me, it looks like Larry Legend is swinging for the fences with this pick. If Stephenson turns out to be a real steal, then he'll look like a genius. If he turns out to be another Shawne Williams, at least Larry is being consistent.
Stephenson is 6-5 or so, and doesn't have the explosive athleticism of a lot of NBA guards. But at 227 lbs, he manages to overpower a lot of the weaker, smaller players. Not sure if this will be enough for him in the NBA, but the Pacers seem to be impressed with him. He averaged 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season.
Stephenson also faces the same problem as George on the wing (ie finding playing time). If he ends up at the end of the bench for long periods of time, which he probably will, I just hope he doesn't end up being a distraction.
The guy with probably the coolest name in the draft is a 6-11, 220 lb power forward that goes for every loose ball. Exactly the kind of player the Pacers need with Jeff Foster in decline.
Apparently, Rolle has been tearing it up in camp (according to this Indystar article), being by far the most dominant player amongst the Pacers' draft picks. I will take this with a grain of salt because many players have done well in camp and then do nothing when they're given proper playing time.
Rolle is 24-years-old, so his upside is more limited than the other guys, but he could end up being a steal. The Pacers obviously think so, having traded up for him.
However, will Rolle get any playing time behind Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, Solomon Jones and Josh McRoberts? And what about last year's power forward selection, Tyler Hansbrough? Having missed so much time last season, this will almost be like another rookie campaign for Hansbrough. Can a guy like Rolle, who, let's not forget, is the 51st pick, challenge these players for court time? Very pessimistic about his chances.
I think all three guys (George, Stephenson and Rolle) are solid selections, but I have doubts that they are the right selections for the Indiana Pacers at this point in time. What they really need is a starting point guard, or at least someone that can become a starting point guard in a couple of years.
Instead, they drafted three somewhat promising players in their most stacked positions, who will all struggle to find playing time behind more experienced veterans. I don't care who it is, but someone has to go. It'll be interesting to see if the Pacers can pull something off before the start of next season. For the sake of all the fans, I sure hope so.