Armed with the thirteenth pick, the Pacers aimed and fired at former National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough.
Uncommon in today’s draft landscape is a guy like Hansbrough, who stayed at North Carolina for four years. The word best used to describe him is tenacious. His basketball IQ is high, and he’s comfortable in his 6’9”, 250-pound frame.
He can run the floor, which will allow him to fit into coach Jim O’Brien’s fast-paced system. He’s strong and more athletic than people give him credit for; Indiana made this pick knowing exactly what they are getting.
Hansbrough’s ceiling is close to smacking him on the head, but president Larry Bird and general manager David Morway were impressed enough with what he did in college to make him a lottery pick.
His numbers with the Tar Heels speak for themselves. He averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to replicate those numbers (especially offensively) in the NBA.
If you read my predraft piece, you know I wanted the Pacers to take DeJuan Blair, and was against them taking Hansbrough. I stand firm in my opinion, but there was obviously something about Blair that scared off a number of clubs.
A lot of mock drafters had Indiana taking Blair, and most had him going soon after if they didn’t call his name. Instead, Blair slipped all the way into the second round to San Antonio at the 37th pick. I think we’ll see something come out about why Blair fell in the coming days, if it wasn’t his bum knees as some are suggesting.
Heading into the draft, I steadfastly believed that the Pacers needed to use the pick on a big man. In a draft full of guards and very low on even “tall” forwards, Hansbrough was among the four or five good prospects available for teams looking to add some size.
I’m not overly thrilled with the pick, but I’ll give it at least half a season until I fully come down one way or another.
Hansbrough was the most criticized member of the class that traveled to New York for the festivities. He consistently reiterated the confidence that he has in himself, which is all well and good assuming he backs it up this fall.
“I kind of like this position I’m in,” Hansbrough said on Wednesday. “I impress people now because they don’t expect much.”
Hansbrough will be expected to come in and contribute right away. Currently, I see him playing about 15 minutes behind Troy Murphy.
He’ll provide a change of pace for Indiana, with Murphy preferring the perimeter offensively. If O’Brien puts Hansbrough and Jeff Foster on the floor at the same time, I don’t know if there will be a loose ball that the Pacers won’t corral.
This year’s draft was very hard to predict, and even Hansbrough was unsure of where he’d end up.
“Well, I had a really good workout for them, and I was kind of talking to my agent, they thought, you know, at one point they might try to go little and you know, try to get a guard or something like that,” Hansbrough said after he was drafted.
“It seemed like two minutes before the pick happened, he [his agent] got a call and he gave me thumbs up and that’s when everything changed. The feelings, the emotions of it going through me are kind of indescribable. I was very happy.”
It could be that Hansbrough was so happy because not very many thought he would come off the board so high, but regardless, it was nice to see some emotion from a guy as intense as Tyler.
Hansbrough, following in the footsteps of Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert, says that he’s ready to make an impact.
“I’m looking forward to still proving people wrong and going out there and playing my game,” he said Thursday night.
With their second round pick, 52nd overall, the Pacers selected Connecticut point guard A.J. Price.
I saw Price play a lot for the Huskies – the only team I can root for in my home state – and he’s a gritty guy. I like him as someone that can push Travis Diener, who exercised his player option earlier this week, in the race for the third point guard spot.
Price is inbetween T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack in terms of size, and comes from a solid program. He could have been a first-round pick if he hadn’t had a few issues with his health. He’s solid value with such a late pick, but then again, it appears as though every team with a pick came away with a passer this year.
As we head into free agency, let’s take a look at Indiana’s roster:
PG: T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack (RFA), A.J. Price, Travis Diener
SG: Brandon Rush, Mike Dunleavy (out until 2010)
SF: Danny Granger, Marquis Daniels (TO)
PF: Troy Murphy, Tyler Hansbrough, Josh McRoberts (RFA)
C: Roy Hibbert, Jeff Foster
There’s a lot to process now, but I see a few spots that need work and a few players that might be desired on the trade market. If the Pacers are going to end their three-year playoff drought, they are going to have to do some more shuffling. I’ll let the dust settle on the draft, and analyze what moves Indiana might make in the coming days.