Pacers Select Duke's Miles Plumlee, Trade for UCSB's Johnson
Picks bring mix of toughness, athleticism, rebounding, and scoring
by Jeff Tzucker | June 28, 2012
"I think it's a home-run."
Those were Pacers Coach Frank Vogel's words for drafting Miles Plumlee.
And with that, the Pacers went big in the first round and, in some ways, bigger in the second round with a trade for UCSB guard Orlando Johnson ( Bio | Photo Gallery ). The Pacers, who traded their second-round pick in March to Toronto for Leandro Barbosa, made the trade for Johnson for cash considerations.
The selection of Duke's 7-foot center, Miles Plumlee ( Bio | Photo Gallery | Video Interview ), will provide the Pacers a big body, surprising athleticism, hustle, and more of the blue collar work ethic the Pacers value.
And by the way everyone's talking, all these traits sure make it look like they were looking to replace recently-retired Pacer Jeff Foster's hustle, rebounding, and toughness. (Oh, and that athleticism thing, too.) Maybe it's because they were.
To hear Coach Vogel tell it: "The first scouting meeting that I stepped in to, I jokingly said, 'Is there any Jeff Fosters in this draft? And about four of our scouts simultaneously said, 'Miles Plumlee!' And, we've had our eye on him ever since."
"He's clearly the best dirty-work player in the draft." Vogel continued. "A blue-collar guy. He falls right in to this team's identity."
Sound familiar? Maybe like a certain recently-retired Pacer?
Athletically, Plumlee's quicker than you might imagine while boasting a 36" vertical leap. At the end of the predraft workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, he bounced a ball off the side of the backboard, grabbed the ball in mid-air, and then dunked it.
In an exclusive interview with Pacers.com, outgoing Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird told us, "We think he's very athletic. Get him down the court and he'll be able to defend the pick and roll. We feel like he's gonna be like a Jeff Foster-type player and that's good enough for us."
Along with the favorable Jeff Foster comparisons, Plumlee played four years for Coach K at Duke, bringing a winning pedigree with him to the Pacers. This past year, he helped lead Duke to the Sweet 16. He was also a key member of Duke's 2010 National Championship team. (And it doesn't hurt that he's from Indiana as well.)
Bird is confident Plumlee will see playing time with the Pacers. "He'll be able to play for us right away. That's what we're trying to do with the pick is find someone we know can step in right away."
On the heels of talking about Plumlee with the 26th picks, Bird told Pacers.com that they were still in the drafting game. "There's some players left we like. And we're gonna try to get to the second round and see if we can get somebody."
That player turned out to be UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson. Largely unknown outside of Santa Barbara, Bird described him this way, "Orlando's a big 2-guard who can get to the hole, he can defend, and we really like him." He continued. "He's a kid that gives something we don't really have: He's someone that attacks all the time. He's a big kid. A big stocky kid that can handle himself out there."
"He can shoot it pretty well. He's got a funny shot, a real high release, but he gets the ball in the hole in different ways and we feel he's going to be a real plus for the bench."
Johnson led Santa Barbara to back-to-back NCAA tournament showings for the first time in their history. The 6'5" guard brings good size and scoring at the guard position where he averaged 19.7 ppg, 5.8 rebs, and 2.9 asts his Senior year.
Add it all up and the Pacers came away from draft night with an intriguing mix of size, athleticism, scoring ability, toughness, and a blue collar work ethic.
Those sound like traits that would make Foster proud.
Throughout the evening, we're posting videos, photos, interviews, and analysis from draft night 2012, including Pacers.com exclusive interviews with new GM Kevin Pritchard and Larry Bird.
- Photo Tour of Draft Room »
- Images and Updates from Draft Room posted on twitter & facebook
- Chat Room (Closed)
- Mid-First Round Interview with new GM Pritchard (Mark Boyle hosting)
- Post Draft Pick Interview with Larry Bird (Mark Boyle hosting)
- Post-pick Player Information, Analysis, Photos
- Photos and Videos from 2012 Pacers Draft Parties
- Press Conference footage
We will also follow along with the new Pacers player upon his arrival in Indianapolis. Come back to this page for more detail.