I am a huge Pacers fan, a fact which has caused considerable emotional distress this season. According to Tim Donahue at Eight Points, Nine Seconds this year’s team is among the worst this franchise has ever put forth. Even a casual fan’s observations would back up the numbers Donahue puts together.
The good news is that spring is right around the corner. While some fans are gearing up for their team’s playoff runs, others get the excitement and joy of preparing for the NBA Draft. Although they are still awaiting FDA approval, websites like Draftexpress.com and NBADraft.net can serve as powerful antidpressants to NBA fans in New Jersey, Minnesota, Washington and Indiana. Today I will be wearing my fantasy GM hat and making my personal recommendations for the Pacers’ draft strategy. This will be a 4 part post, with the first three posts focusing on my recommendation for each Pacers draft pick. The 4th post will focus on some possible players to target through trades or free agency moving into next season. I am going to move in reverse order starting with the Pacers lowest 2nd round pick and move towards their 1st Round pick. I will be using Draftexpress.com as a reference for what players will be available at each draft position.
(I am operating under the assumption that the Pacers will be receiving the Dallas Mavericks’ 2nd round pick this year to complete the Shawne Williams trade. The pick is officially listed as either Dallas’ 2010 or 2011 2nd round pick. I couldn’t find any clarification on whether the Pacers will recieve it this year or next.)
2nd Round – Pick no. 53 (from Dallas)
Jon Scheyer – Duke University – 6’5″ 180 lbs. – PG/SG
Scheyer has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and I would love to see the Pacers snag him at the end of the second round. There is usually very little productive value to be found at the end of the second round; and many teams use these picks as a chance to take a flyer on a raw athlete (Bill Walker 2008, D.J. Strawberry 2007) or an international player which can be stashed overseas and developed for free (Tadija Dragicevic 2008, Marcin Gortat 2005). There is nothing wrong with this strategy, but I belive Scheyer could step in right away and contribute as a second-string point guard. Here are some of his stats from this season:
Shooting has always been a strength for Scheyer, and his numbers this season continue to show this. He is a deadeye shooter with his feet set, but has struggled in the past when asked to shoot off the dribble, or contested. I believe this presents more of a problem for him at the college level. In the NBA, especially in a back-up point guard role, he will be surrounded with many more offensive weapons and will be asked to play more to his strengths, facilitating the offense and knocking down open jumpers. Another number which should jump off the page is his ratio of FTA/FGA. Scheyer attempts 6.2 FT/40min, a remarkable number considering his athletic limitations. His 6.2 FTA/40 rank ahead of many post players projected as first and second round picks this year, including Craig Brackins, Derek Favors, Ekpe Udoh, Gavin Edwards and Patrick Patterson. As an 89% FT shooter, his ability to get to the line against quicker, faster players is a powerful asset.
Scheyer began his college career as a 2-guard, a fact which makes his numbers this year even more incredible. His assist to turnover ratio is impeccable, currently ranking first in all of college basketball. It is also worth noting that it is nearly double the assist to turnover ratio of both John Wall and Evan Turner; two prolific ball handlers and likely top-5 picks. His 5.9 Ast/40 min. are a testament to the progress he has made in transitioning from shooting guard, to full-time and effective point guard.
Defense is always going to be Scheyer’s biggest weakness. His physical tools hinder him from being a top-notch, lockdown defender. I do believe that what he lacks in quickness he can make up in intelligence and determination. He is a solid, if unspectacular defender at the collegiate level, struggling mostly with containing dribble penetration. However, Scheyer has terrific size for point guard position and with some coaching could use that even more effectively to his advantage. Although they may not be the majority, there are plenty of players who came into the league pegged as defensive liabilities, who through effort and skill development have become positives for their team at that end of the floor. Two that jump to mind are J.J. Redick and Jared Jeffries.
A lot of Pacer fan posts lately have been focused on improving the talent of the team. I don’t think that is nearly as important as improving the effort, heart and IQ of the team. I know many will condem this pick as another slow, white shooter, severely lacking in talent. I can’t argue about Scheyer’s skin color or lack of footspeed, but I do beg to differ on the talent level. (I also want to mention that of all the criteria used to judge potential draft picks, skin color should probably be the last on the list.) To help make my case, I wanted to compare Scheyer to an NBA player who I think best represents his ceiling as a player. I spent some time perusing statistics and the match that felt the strongest was Chicago Bulls point guard and University of Kansas Alumnus Kirk Hinrich.
The physical similarities are obvious, lanky, white, good size for the point guard position. (Scheyer is listed at 6’5″, Hinrich measured out at 6’3.75″ in shoes before the NBA Draft.) Although we don’t have similar pre-draft measurements for Scheyer yet, I believe they will bear out an edge in athleticism to Hinrich. However, I think the statistics demonstrate an edge in skills and basketball IQ for Scheyer.
From my perspective, this pick should be viewed as a freebie. Regardless of how the last 30 or so games play out, Dallas should finish near the top of the league, and this pick will most likely be near the bottom of the second round. I am not arguing that Scheyer is a potential star, or even a starter. I do think he has the potential to be a heady, hardworking back-up point guard. For 12-15 minutes a game he is going to bring a lot more to the table than he is going to take away, and for the most part I think he is ready to do it walking through the door next year. He doesn’t have the athleticism of A.J. Price, but I think he can contribute much more. A.J. has more potential as an individual scorer, but Scheyer will do more for the offensive of our second unit as a whole, with his passing, intelligence, shooting and effort. There is usually not a lot of talent available at the end of the 2nd round but I think Scheyer represents a tremendous value, given the lateness of the pick, his well-developed skill set, and the needs of our team.
Part Two coming soon …………………