With the NBA Draft just a few days away, it’s time to take a look at whom the Cleveland Cavaliers’ divisional rivals will be selecting in the upcoming NBA Draft. In this post — the last of four — Right Down Euclid senior writer Chris Manning takes a look at the Indiana Pacers
Draft Picks: Nos. 23 and 46
The Indiana Pacers, without question, are the biggest threat to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. They played the Heat better than anyone not named the San Antonio Spurs and appear poised to be contenders in the next few years to come. Unlike their Central Division counterparts, the Pacers are in a position to simply retool and are just a few complimentary pieces away from being a complete team. And this offseason, they could decide to resign David West and come back the same team. But due to the uncertain future of Danny Granger, the Pacers could have the most interesting draft night by a Central Division team not named the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Biggest Strength: Danny Granger
The rise of Paul George has made Granger’s future a tad uncertain. The Pacers took the Heat to their brink without their former leading scorer and, with his expiring contract, he could be biggest name player to switch teams this offseason. Teams like the Cavaliers, Clippers and Timberwolves all could offer Indiana an attractive package of picks and/or young talent that would help the Pacers look toward the future, while not sacrificing short term competiveness. Or they could always stand pat with Granger, bring him back next season and maybe look to move him before the trade deadline. But either way, Granger gives the Pacers real roster flexibility whether it’s draft night or something else.
Biggest Weakness: Depth behind Roy Hibbert and George Hill
If I were Indiana, I would do my best to try and find a young center in this draft to groom behind Hibbert. Assuming they are able to resign David West, their frontcourt will be pretty strong with Hibbert, West and the scrappy Tyler Hansbrough. But adding a young big in a draft full of them would fill what I think is their biggest positional need. The same goes for depth at point guard, where George Hill is a fine player, but D.J. Augustine will command more money in the open market than he’s really worth. Players like Shane Larkin, Dennis Schroder and Erick Green in round two could be good picks for the Pacers as they head into the offseason.
Right Down Euclid’s Kevin Stankiewcz on Granger
At the start of the 2012-13 NBA Season, Danny Granger was widely considered the Indiana Pacers’ best player even though he began the season injured. But after the Pacers grabbed the third seed in the Eastern Conference and took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, questions about Danny Granger’s future with the team are being raised. Why? Because the Pacers accomplished all of this while Granger played only five games the entire year. NBA sophomore Paul George emerged in Granger’s absence as the Pacers go-to player and even made his first All-Star team. The Indiana front office should look to move Danny Granger in the off-season and build the rest of their roster around George, a young budding star.
A team can coexist with two stars on their team, but in the case of the Pacers, the two play the same position. Both Granger and George are 6’8” small forwards with similar skill sets. The Pacers would be better off flipping Granger via trade and receiving pieces that would better fill their needs, such as a conventional point guard or a young power forward. Dumping the 30-year-old Granger, and his $13 million dollar salary, would increase Indiana’s cap space and allow the already young team to get a tad bit younger. They would not have a very difficult time trading the one-time NBA’s Most Improved Player either. There are many teams in the market looking for an upgrade at the three spot. A team like the Cleveland Cavaliers could use an upgrade at SF, or Orlando as well.
Danny Granger is a fine NBA player who could benefit on a slew of different clubs. But since the Pacers have a player very similar to Granger when it comes to skill, position and that is seven years younger, they should look to deal him in the offseason to fill one of their greater needs.
Right Down Euclid Predicts
At 23, we see the Pacers selecting Reggie Bullock, the small forward from North Carolina. At 46, we predict Indiana will take BYU forward/center Brandon Davies.