Even at Pick 57, Pacers Can Find Value in NBA Draft
The Pacers own the 57th overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. Since second-round selections aren’t guaranteed contracts, fans have a tendency to overlook picks made in the latter half of draft night.
Whoever is chosen with the fourth-to-last pick on Thursday might not seem likely to make a major impact in the NBA. And in fact, in the past eight years, only one player drafted 57th has yet to appear in an NBA regular season game.
That would be Ryan Reid – drafted by the Pacers out of Florida State in 2010 and immediately traded to Oklahoma City. Reid appeared in five games for the Thunder during the 2011-12 season, totaling eight points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find great value that late in the draft. The NBA is littered with examples of late second-round picks who have emerged as quality NBA starters.
The Sacramento Kings took diminutive point guard Isaiah Thomas with the 60th and final pick in 2011. In the 2013-14 season, only 19 players averaged 20 or more points per game. One of those 19 players? Isaiah Thomas.
Also on that list was Goran Dragic, the 45th overall pick in 2008, and the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 2013-14 season.
Other late second round success stories include the best 3-point shooter in the NBA last season (Kyle Korver, the 51st pick in 2003) and the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year (Marc Gasol, 48th in 2007).
Paul Millsap (the 47th pick in 2006) and Marcin Gortat (57th in 2005) both gave the Pacers plenty of problems in the playoffs – each averaged a double-double against the Blue-and-Gold.
And three former second-rounders – Manu Ginobili (57th in 1999), Danny Green (46th in 2009), and Patty Mills (55th in 2009) – helped the Spurs to the 2014 NBA title, combining for 33.8 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.4 steals per game against the Heat.
Looking at the Pacers’ final roster from this past season, three players (Lavoy Allen, Rasual Butler, and Luis Scola) were taken with the 50th pick or later. Three more (Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, and C.J. Watson) went undrafted.
Evan Turner was the second overall pick in 2010, but played a minimal role for the Pacers this postseason while Lance Stephenson, the 40th selection in the same draft, played 37 minutes per game in the playoffs.
Historically, the Pacers have found a couple diamonds in the rough late in the second round, most notably Antonio Davis (the 45th pick in 1990) and Fred Hoiberg (52nd in 1995), both of whom enjoyed long NBA careers.
So it’s not inconceivable that the 57th pick could turn out to be a future star. Ginobili, a four-time NBA champion and two-time All-Star, went in that exact spot in 1999 (of course, the 57th picks the years before and after were Torraye Braggs and Scoonie Penn).
Still, even the best second-round picks tend to take a little time to develop. Stephenson barely saw the court in his first two NBA seasons before emerging as a starter in the 2012-13 campaign. Green and Mills also saw sporadic playing time early in their careers (examples like these are also why the Pacers brass remains hopeful about the development of 2013 first-round selection Solomon Hill).
Because second-round picks generally take longer to develop, many teams like taking chances on foreign prospects late in the second round. Instead of having to find a roster spot for a player who might not be ready to contribute right away, a team can allow a foreign player to continue developing overseas and then bring them to the States down the road. Ginobili, Gortat, and Gasol all spent a year or more overseas between being drafted and making their NBA debuts.
The Pacers, however, may actually want whoever they draft to take up a spot on their roster this year. Paul George’s contract extension kicks in this fall, meaning the All-Star forward is due a roughly $13 million raise next season. The Pacers will likely use most of their limited remaining cap space to either re-sign Lance Stephenson or bring in someone to replace him. A second round pick on a rookie pay scale could be a cost-efficient way to fill one of the remaining roster spots.
There is always the possibility that the Pacers could attempt to pull off some sort of draft night trade. Moving into the first round would likely require the Pacers moving a player currently on their roster, but stranger things have happened.
Moving up in the second round seems like a more likely scenario, particularly if a player the front office really likes is still available. There is typically a lot of reshuffling within the second round, and the Pacers have made a trade on draft night in both of the past two years – moving up to get Orlando Johnson with the 36th overall pick in 2012 and trading the 53rd pick last year (Colton Iverson) to Boston. In both cases, the pick was traded simply for cash considerations.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly how Thursday night unfolds, but this much is certain: The Pacers can find value in this year’s draft, even with pick number 57.