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Mr. Sobchak
06-25-2008, 06:16 PM
http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/draft_080625.html


The 11th pick in the NBA Draft hasn't yielded much in recent years but Larry Bird is convinced that's about to change.

Bird believes the Pacers will be able to acquire a player that can step in and contribute next season with their first pick Thursday night. That would buck a trend that has produced just one 2007-08 starter (Golden State's Andris Biedrins) and no All-Stars from among the last 14 players selected at No. 11.

Of course, it's also the slot that produced Reggie Miller in 1987.

"With the situation we're in I think we need someone who can help us now," Bird said. "We don't have time to wait a couple years and see. I think these young men are going to be good players but it's really hard to tell. A lot of them have a lot of work to do on their bodies to get stronger and they've just got to improve. In our situation, I really feel we have to get somebody right now that can help us. Even if we get another pick, both players have to be able to step in and play some for us."

Bird's words indicate a preference for more experienced college prospects with polish. That could bode well for Texas point guard D.J. Augustin (senior), Georgetown center Roy Hibbert (senior) and Kansas swingman Brandon Rush (junior). It could also indicate an aversion for talented but raw prospects such as big men JaVale McGee (Nevada sophomore), DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M freshman), and forward Anthony Randolph (LSU freshman).

Not that he isn't willing to make an exception. Though Indiana guard Eric Gordon is entering the NBA after just one season of college competition, Bird indicated he'd nevertheless take "a hard look," should the Indianapolis native slide to No. 11. Two younger big men, Ohio State's Kosta Koufos (freshman) and Kansas' Darrell Arthur (sophomore), have demonstrated accelerated polish and maturity in workouts and thus do not appear to be "project" picks.

"We've got to get a player who can help us to move this franchise forward," he said. "You'd like to get a player who can help you this year but you know he's going to get better and better. That gives you more options with some of your other players if you want to move them."

Bird was the Pacers' coach when No. 5 pick Jonathan Bender was acquired in 1999 and Al Harrington was taken at No. 25 in 1998. That was when the Pacers were among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, had a roster stocked with veterans and could afford to gamble on very young but talented players that would need years to develop. Harrington eventually emerged into a productive player but Bender was beset by injury problems that forced his premature retirement.

Coming off consecutive seasons without playoff berths, the Pacers have less time to wait and a slimmer margin of error to gamble on potential.

"I was involved in that when I was here the first time when we took Al and Jonathan, both of them very talented players," Bird said. "Jonathan, with all the talent he had, we waited and waited and waited and when he was coming, it was unfortunate that he was injured. So you really donít know. I think it's very important for us to get some players that can help right now."

Though Augustin is by far the most popular choice for the Pacers in mock drafts, Bird said he didn't feel compelled to draft a point guard because he could acquire "a good point guard, maybe two of them," through other avenues such as trades or free agency. He also had very little to say about Augustin when asked to evaluate him as a prospect.

"I like him," Bird said. "He's a good player."

Asked if Augustin's lack of size was a factor, Bird replied, "Yes."

Pressed to elaborate, he said, "Well, I mean, he's the same size as Kravitz (referring to the sub-6-foot columnist for The Indianapolis Star)."

Though he has identified point guard and post players as the roster's biggest need, Bird said he will draft the best player available regardless of position. Rush apparently has been climbing draft boards around the league thanks to a series of impressive workouts, as has the 7-2 Hibbert, who appears to be a Bird favorite.

"He can play for us right now," Bird said of the Georgetown center. "He's skilled, he's big. He doesn't have the quickness that the other kids had but as far as knowing how to play, I thought he dominated that workout (with McGee and Jordan). He's lost some weight and he's moving quicker. Our concern was if you blitz the pick-and-roll can he get back? He proved to us that he could. He's a very dedicated worker and a very fine young man so he's obviously somebody we've got to look at."

Though Hibbert might be considered a reach at No. 11, Bird is working to acquire an additional first-round pick between 12 and the early 20s and could target Hibbert with that choice.

"We've got some possibilities," Bird said. "I think we'll probably be able to get one if we want it. And if it's in the area where we can get a good player, we'll take it."

It promises to be one of the liveliest draft nights in recent years for the Pacers, who will throw their first NBA Draft Party since moving into Conseco Fieldhouse in 2000. Bird said the phones have been "very active" with teams trying to make deals involving picks and veteran players.

"Some teams are trying to get up and get our pick, swap picks, throw players in it," he said. "To say we're going to stand pat at 11, I can't tell you that but I like who's going to be there. I think we've got a chance to get a very special player at 11 so I think it's going to take a lot to move back. Moving up, I don't know. I think we can get what we want at 11. There are two or three players there that are just as good as some of the guys in front of us that are going to be drafted, so we're sitting in a pretty good position."

The Pacers also hold the No. 41 pick in the second round. From the past 10 drafts, nearly as many players taken No. 41 are still in the NBA (five) as at No. 11 (six).

"There's a lot of talent in this draft Ö It's all over the board," Bird said, pointing out recent second-round finds Carlos Boozer, Gilbert Arenas and Monta Ellis. "There are going to be some guys in the second round, and I watched them play in Orlando, that are very talented players."

JayRedd
06-25-2008, 06:18 PM
You have the title backwards.

Mr. Sobchak
06-25-2008, 06:18 PM
Oops. Could a mod please change it? thanks

Justin Tyme
06-25-2008, 06:33 PM
Lets hope the Hibbert comment is a smoke screen!

Kemo
06-25-2008, 06:37 PM
LOL maybe he likes Polish Potential..


haha

sorry bad joke:dance:

eldubious
06-25-2008, 07:55 PM
All this talk of bigs has me certain that the Pacers are going guard at #11.

Anthem
06-25-2008, 10:46 PM
He also had very little to say about Augustin when asked to evaluate him as a prospect.

"I like him," Bird said. "He's a good player."

Asked if Augustin's lack of size was a factor, Bird replied, "Yes."
:laugh: Ok, that's good. I know everybody else was excited about the Kravitz comment (which I liked), but this just made me happy. Both because I agree and because that's a great response to an open-and-shut question.

docpaul
06-27-2008, 12:29 AM
Man, this article was like... totally dead on.

Makes Bird look fairly transparent. He essentially did *exactly* what he alluded to doing.

He simply executed upon his gut instincts.

CableKC
06-27-2008, 12:56 AM
Man, this article was like... totally dead on.

Makes Bird look fairly transparent. He essentially did *exactly* what he alluded to doing.

He simply executed upon his gut instincts.
Nope...I don't think that Bird has it in him to be Riley/Walsh like when it comes to doing smokescreens. In fact....given the openness that TPTB have now......JO'B and Bird are straight shooters....they don't candy-coat things and just tell you like it is....sometimes that is good ( I guess as the draft turned out ) and sometimes it's bad.

But in truth...that is what alot of the GMs were saying as draft day dragged on....GMs wanted players that had really high ceilings but could definitely help now or players that were NBA Ready ( basically what Bird wanted )....players that were considered raw with potential that are 2-3 seasons away from contributing ( McGee, Int'l Players and Jordan ) dropped.

stew
06-27-2008, 09:08 AM
Nope...I don't think that Bird has it in him to be Riley/Walsh like when it comes to doing smokescreens. In fact....given the openness that TPTB have now......JO'B and Bird are straight shooters....they don't candy-coat things and just tell you like it is....sometimes that is good ( I guess as the draft turned out ) and sometimes it's bad.

But in truth...that is what alot of the GMs were saying as draft day dragged on....GMs wanted players that had really high ceilings but could definitely help now or players that were NBA Ready ( basically what Bird wanted )....players that were considered raw with potential that are 2-3 seasons away from contributing ( McGee, Int'l Players and Jordan ) dropped.

I thought he did what Walsh taught him to do.. lied on his first draft, then you dont need to lie again...