NBA mock drafts are being published every day, and most of them are predicting the Indiana Pacers will select Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis.
DraftExpress, Basketball Insiders and even Yahoo Sports all think the Pacers will draft Ulis. The Pacers currently hold the 20th pick overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, and the sophomore guard is viewed as a solid first round talent. He could really give the Pacers a boost at the point guard position.
Yahoo Sports’ Ed Isaacson believes Ulis can help the Pacers immediately. Here is what he wrote about Ulis in his recent mock draft.
"“…Indiana could really use some help behind George Hill. Ulis may be small, but he is tough, and showed a lot of improvement as a sophomore, building on his ability to control his team’s offense. He is adept at the pick-and-roll, and can cause chaos for the defense with his ability to disappear behind screens. He hasn’t shown a lot of consistency from long range, and will need to get stronger for the NBA game. Ulis knows how to play tough defense and can pressure the ball well anywhere on the floor.”"
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Ulis was a two-year starter at Kentucky. He only posted 5.6 points and 3.6 assists per game as freshman. However, his lack of production was understandable because his teammates were top NBA prospects. His teammates at the time were Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker. All of them were drafted within the first 13 picks of the 2015 NBA Draft.
After his quiet freshman season, Ulis had breakout sophomore year. He averaged 17.3 points, seven assists and three rebounds per game. He also emerged as the team’s unquestionable leader. Here is what head coach John Calipari said about Ulis’ leadership on the Jim Rome show.
"“Tyler Ulis is, in my mind, the best floor general that we’ve had, since I’ve coached. I mean, the best floor general. Now what he’s learning to do is lead off the court. You can’t just lead on the court and then away from the court you kind of separate.”"
Also, Ulis’ excellent play earned him a lot of accolades as a sophomore. He was a Consensus first-team All-American, he won the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award, and he was voted the SEC Player of the Year by both league coaches and the Associated Press.
Right now, the Indiana Pacers’ options at point guard are George Hill, Rodney Stuckey and Ty Lawson. Hill is currently the team’s starting point guard, but he is not much of a playmaker. Meanwhile, Stuckey was inconsistent of the bench this season, and Lawson might be on his way out this offseason.
If the Pacers drafted Ulis, he probably would not start right away, but he would be one of the first players off the bench. Ulis has the potential move into the starting lineup midway through next season. He is a better playmaker and ball-handler than Hill, which why he would eventually start over Hill.
Ulis was not invited the Indiana Pacers’ three previous pre-draft workout, but this does not entirely mean the team is not interested him. There is a chance the Pacers could be having private and behind-closed-doors conversations with him or about him. Ultimately, Ulis would be a nice addition for them with the 20th pick overall.