With the 2016 NBA Draft only a few days away, the Ink on Indy staff predicts who the Indiana Pacers will select with the 20th and 50th picks overall.
First Round – 20th Pick Overall
Kyle Nishida: Power Forward Ben Bentil
The Indiana Pacers need more low post scoring in their lineup, Ben Bentil can certainly give them that. He was one of the best scoring big men in college during the 2015-16 college basketball season.
The sophomore forward averaged 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in his final season with the Providence Friars. He displayed excellent scoring abilities in the post and outside on the perimeter.
Ian Mahinmi, Lavoy Allen and Jordan Hill are solid defensive players in the post, but they struggle to create shots on their own. Although Bentil is not as skilled defensively as these guys, he makes up for it with his scoring abilities.
Despite being a borderline first round talent in some people’s eyes, the Pacers are thinking about taking Bentil with at No. 20. Bentil participated in a Pacers’ pre-draft workout earlier this month.
Bentil would give the Pacers a big man who can score alongside Myles Turner. Bentil can start or come off the bench. Either way, the Pacers would be getting a guy who will instantly help them offensively.
Garrett Hagan: Power Forward Brice Johnson
As said above, the Pacers could use more scoring in the post, and that’s exactly what both Bentil and Johnson can provide for any team that selects them come draft night.
Not only was Johnson a pivotal piece for a North Carolina team that made it all the way to the championship game in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, but he made his presence felt on opposing defenses as he averaged 17.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game throughout his senior season with the Tar Heels.
Unfortunately on paper this appears to be a rather weak draft class, but there are a handful of guys — including Johnson — that could wind up standing out from the class.
Team president Larry Bird kept some of the team’s depth at the four intact when he recently re-signed Lavoy Allen to a two-year contract, but the book is still out regarding what the team will do with Ian Mahinmi as he is set to become a free agent July 1st. Still, the drafting of Johnson wouldn’t hurt given the uncertainty regarding Mahinmi’s status.
The Pacers could use a big that can both score and crash the glass on the rebounds to pair alongside Myles Turner, and Johnson would be one of the most ideal men in this draft that could do that.
Second Round – 50th Pick Overall
Kyle Nishida: Point Guard Gary Payton II
The Pacers should find a point guard in the second round. Gary Payton II would be an excellent choice for them with the 50th pick overall.
The senior prospect out of Oregon State University was a standout defensive player. He was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and a senior. He also earned All-Pac-12 first-team during that same time span.
The concern about Payton II is his offensive skills. He is not a terrific shooter, but he is a good finisher around the rim. On the drive, he either finishes in traffic or kicks the ball out to open shooters. This skill set would be very useful for the Pacers.
It is hard to find NBA-ready players with good potential upside in the second round. Most analysts believe Payton II is one of those few players. Getting Payton II at No. 50 overall would be a good bargain for the Pacers.
Garrett Hagan: Shooting Guard Isaiah Whitehead
This is a tougher pick to make considering that the Pacers already have a relative amount of depth at the shooting guard position with Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey in the rotation. However, maybe it’s worth a shot given that not many gems have been found in the late-2nd round in draft history.
Whitehead spent two season at Seton Hall, and consistently provided the Pirates with a scoring threat. He averaged 12.0 points through 22 games as a freshman, but saw his numbers increase heavily the following year.
In his sophomore and final season with Seton Hall, Whitehead scored an average of 18.2 points throughout all 34 of the team’s games during the 2015-16 season. He ranked third amongst the Big East this past season in three-point field goals, and second in points.
By drafting him, the Pacers get a reliable scorer who could provide a punch off the bench. As said earlier, it’s certainly a tough pick to make but the selection could be an experimental pick in order for the team to play around and see exactly where Whitehead would fit on the roster.
The 2016 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
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