The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on July 29. As the it approaches, The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each NBA squad will be analyzed, team needs will be addressed and potential targets will be discussed.
The Indiana Pacers are the subject of today’s 2021 NBA Draft Profile.
Indiana began its season by firing head coach Nate McMillan after five seasons at the helm. During his five campaigns with the team, the Pacers made the playoffs four times, losing in the first round each time. The Pacers were swept in the first round in three of those four appearances.
His replacement, former Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren, led the team to a 34-38 record, good enough to earn a spot in the play-in tournament. The Pacers blew out the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, winning by 27. That was followed by a 27-point loss at the hands of the Washington Wizards.
Bjorkgren was let go after just one season, as the Pacers were tired of five straight exits in the earliest possible rounds. Their replacement is former NBA Champion head coach, Rick Carlisle, who parted ways with the Mavericks after 13 seasons.
Armed with a new head coach sporting a championship pedigree and three NBA Draft selections, the Pacers will try to finally escape the first round/play-in tournament in 2021.
2021 Draft Picks
The Pacers have three picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
First Round (one pick):
Pick No. 13
Second Round (two picks):
Picks No. 54 and 60
Rebounding: The Pacers ranked 26th in the NBA in total rebounds in 2020-2021, at 42.7 per game. This was a product of ranking 26th in offensive rebounds and 21st in defensive rebounds. They need another glass-eater to grab them more possessions.
Three-point shooter: Indiana was in the bottom half of the league when it comes to three-point percentage. Rick Carlisle is an offensively-minded head coach who has never been afraid to load up the floor with shooters. Look for the team to grab a knock-down shooter for their new coach.
Pick No. 13: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
Franz Wagner is an international forward with a great three-point jump shot and the ability to score in a multitude of ways. That sounds suspiciously like someone else that Rick Carlisle coached during his time in Dallas.
If Wagner can become a number one option on the Pacers, then he could be Carlisle’s next Dirk Nowitzki. He is not quite a defensive work horse, but a 6-foot-9 frame at the wing position at least gives him potential to be a great two-way player. Taking Wagner here is a proverbial slam dunk.
Pick No. 54: Jericho Sims, PF, Texas
This Texas Longhorn could be the answer to the Pacers’ rebounding problem. At the least he can improve the boards on the bench unit. In the past two years, Sims averaged 8.2 and 7.2 rebounds per game, respectively. His rebounding numbers only fell from year-to-year after losing two minutes of playing time due to other talent on the team needing minutes.
Sims can also block shots and score the ball decently well. The one aspect of his game he needs to drastically improve is his free-throw shooting. His percentage sat at below 60 percent during both of the last two seasons.
Pick No. 60: Filip Petrusev, PF/C, Serbia/Gonzaga
“Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2021 NBA Draft belongs to Indiana.
Petrusev could be that guy, after failing to be drafted last year, despite declaring. He played for Mark Few at Gonzaga, so fans know he is able to be a part of a great American program, then he went back to his home country to learn some of those more European big man skills.
Again, he is a European big who can score and space the floor. Rick Carlisle coached not only Nowitzki, but also Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. He knows how to ingratiate himself towards the European skill set and get the most out of it. Petrusev is getting overlooked in this draft and could be an absolute steal with the last pick.
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