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Frank Slade
06-29-2006, 09:29 AM
June 29, 2006
2006 nba draft

Pacers' surprise top pick: 6-9 forward Williams
Indiana also gets G White in 2nd-round trade


By Mike Wells
mike.wells@indystar.com
June 29, 2006


Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird said he drafted the mystery player he wanted. But he did it while raising some eyebrows.

The Pacers surprised many when they selected University of Memphis forward Shawne Williams with the No. 17 pick in Wednesday's NBA draft.

"I like his (Williams') ability to put the ball on the floor and go with either hand," Bird said. "He can hit shots from outside, he can play a strong game inside."
In the second round, the Pacers selected Alexander Johnson, a forward from Florida State. Indiana then traded Johnson to Portland for University of Cincinnati guard James White, who was the Trail Blazers' second-round pick.

Portland also gets Indiana's second-round picks in 2007 and '08.
"
James White was very high on our board," Bird said. "We could have taken him at 17 just as easy. We're very happy we got both (Williams and White)."Bird was obviously putting up a smokescreen when he said late last week the team would likely continue its trend of drafting players with at least three years of college experience. Williams, 20, played one season at Memphis.
The 6-9 Williams averaged 13.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 36 games, including 34 starts, with the Tigers, who made it to the West Regional Finals. Williams was Conference USA Freshman of the Year.


The Pacers passed on the opportunity to draft Connecticut's Marcus Williams, arguably the best point guard in the draft.
"We like Marcus Williams, but we had him rated a little bit lower than Shawne Williams," Bird said. "He's one guy in the draft we thought would fall and we thought we'd have a great opportunity to get him, but when Shawne Williams was there, that's the guy we wanted.


"He's a player I had my eye on all year long," Bird added. "He was just a freshman this year. Playing behind (Pacer Danny) Granger now, and some of these guys, he'll get time to grow. I think by All-Star break you'll see a big difference in him."

Some analysts questioned the Pacers' selection of Shawne Williams, especially with their need to get better in the backcourt. The Pacers are trying to catch up with Detroit and Miami in the Eastern Conference.


ESPN's Greg Anthony called the pick, "a reach, I think."


"I wonder, though, if he's a winner," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said about Williams. "He's physically weak right now. He has to improve that, and he has to be more focused as a defender, as a rebounder. Right now he's only focused on scoring. Frankly, he's such a young player, he plays only when he feels like it. He's got the tools, though."


Williams' coach in college, John Calipari, shot down the notion that his former player has a poor work ethic. "That's a ridiculous statement," Calipari said. "He was one of our leaders . . . as a freshman. When Larry Bird calls and really, really likes him, and tells me this, I'm like, 'Wow.' You're talking about a guy who's a great teammate, has everybody's respect and accepts everybody.

The kid, I'm telling you, they can say what they want, he's going to be the sleeper of the draft."


The Pacers will have three players battling for time at small forward if Peja Stojakovic re-signs when free agency starts this weekend. Granger also plays small forward.

Bird said during his interview with ESPN that Williams will be able to play power forward after while. The athletic, versatile Williams made 31 percent of his 3-pointers and 42 percent from the field.
Offer to Jones

The Pacers made a qualifying offer to shooting guard Fred Jones.

The Pacers have the right to match any offer sheet Jones gets when the free agent period begins Saturday. Teams can't sign free agents until July 12.

INDYSTAR (http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060629&Category=SPORTS04&ArtNo=606290504&SectionCat=&Template=printart)


Not mentioned here, but Bird did say that White can play 1-3 on the floor, and did play PG for 2 years in College.

Jon Theodore
06-29-2006, 10:21 AM
I won't be surprised to see this white fellow be productive next season.

haloguy
06-29-2006, 10:30 AM
Well jacksons getting traded away, so there may be room for granger and peja to start if peja resigns, with danny playing the sg