This is the second, of a four part post stating my draft and free agency recommendations for the Pacers during this offseason. In the first part, I suggested selecting Jon Scheyer with the 2nd round pick the Pacers will hopefully receive from Dallas this year. This post will focus on my recommendation for the Pacers own second round pick. As I stated before, I am using Draftexpress.com as a reference for what players should be available at each draft position. So without further ado . . .
2nd Round – Pick no. 36
Craig Brackins – Iowa State – 6′10″ 230 lbs. – PF/C
This is where making pick recommendations becomes a little more difficult. With a pick at the end of the 2nd round a team is hoping to get some value; with a pick at the beginning of the 2nd round a team is expecting value. I believe this is a draft slot where the Pacers need to get some size. Who knows what kind of shape Jeff Foster and Tyler Hansborough will return in? Solomon Jones has been about as useful as expected, which is not very. Finally, with Murphy’s contract expiring at the end 2010/2011, there is a good chance that he will be moved over the summer or during the season. This leaves a lot of holes in the Pacers frontcourt. My decision here has as much to do with the shortcomings of the other players available, as it does with the strengths of Craig Brackins. Before I explain my rationale for selecting him, let me explain some of the players I passed over and why.
- Yancy Gates, Andrew Ogilvy, and Deon Thompson all have some specific skills but don’t appear to have much upside.
- Charles Garcia seems to have a lot of upside, but has a LONG way to go before he would be a consistent contributor at the next level.
- Jarvis Vanardo would bring some athleticism and shot blocking, but not much else. He has the potential to be a shorter, skinnier Hasheem Thabeet. (Ask the Grizzlies how that’s working out.)
- I gave Dexter Pittman a look, but in the end I thought he duplicated to much of what Roy Hibbert already brings to the table. They would never be able to play together because of their lack of mobility and redundant offensive skills.
- I am a big fan of Trevor Booker and I think he will end up really helping an NBA club down the road. The problem is that he is a tweener, and will likely spend a lot more time at the 3 than at the 4.
- I gave Kenneth Faried a really long look; a really, really long look. I love his motor, his energy and his athleticism. His rebounding numbers are absolutely monstrous (17.7 Reb/40, 5.7 OffREB/40). The problem is that his offensive game needs so much work. The Pacers offensive has been so bad this season, I don’t feel like they can take a chance on someone who won’t be able to contribute at that end of the floor.
So after knocking out the players above, I settled on Craig Brackins. I’d like to start my rationale by taking a look at some statistics. The numbers are a great indication of the strengths and weaknesses, potential and shortcomings of Brackins.
The first things that jumps out are the big declines in points and rebounds from last year. I believe this can be attributed to a few different factors. The first is the extra attention being paid to Brackins by opposing defenses. The second is the addition of JUCO transfer, Marquis Gilstrap. In their evaluation of power forward prospects at the end of the 08/09 season, Draftexpress.com noted that Brackins was someone who could really benefit from better players around him, specifically guards. The addition of Gilstrap has seemed to help him in some areas but unfortunately really hurt in others. Gilstrap has come in and made an immediate impact, taking shots and rebound opportunities from Brackins. Brackins shouldered a tremendous load last season, as his team’s only real offensive weapon. However, shouldering that load led to some gaudy, but probably inflated scoring and rebounding totals. Despite these drop-offs, there are some impressive improvements. No one will confuse Craig Brackins with a lockdown defender in the post or on the perimeter. That being said he has increased both his steal and block totals, demonstrating improved effort and awareness on the defensive end. The most striking numbers for me were the huge decrease in both turnovers and personal fouls. Of the 87 D1 basketball players averaging at least 1.4 Blk/40, only two, Patrick Patterson (1.9) and Stanley Robinson (1.8), average fewer PF/40 than Brackins. Turnovers and defending without fouling are two huge areas of concern for the Pacers; Brackins looks like he might be able to help.
Brackins has seen a huge drop off in FG% this year. This fact is especially troubling, given that he is taking less shots (and presumably better shots), because of the presence of Gilstrap. The bright spots are that his 3PT%, on 3 attempts a game, has risen to respectable levels. His free throw percentage has also risen dramatically. Brackins still shoots way to many contested jumpers, a nauseating symptom of the current Pacers. However, he has shown ability in the post and in isolation situations. I believe a scenario where he is asked to do less offensively, but to do those things more efficiently, will bring out the best in his offensive skills.
The large decline in his usage rate again can be attributed mostly to newcomer Marquis Gilstrap. The real treasure in these numbers is his improvement in the Assist metrics. He has doubled his A/TO ratio, both by taking better care of the ball and by making better choices with his passes. He also doubled the number of assists he averaged per possesion and per field goal attempt. This would seem to indicate an awareness of the value of a possession, and how to make better use of his teammates’ offensive talents, meager though they may be. His Pts/Pos declined significantly, but still rank ahead of Al-Farouq Aminu, Greg Monroe, David Ebanks and Ekpe Udoh, all post players projected to be picked ahead of Brackins.
Another variable that I haven’t touched on is the coaching staff. For our personnel, and our team as a whole, to make improvements next year there has to be a change at head coach. Coming into this team, as a rookie under O’Brien, in this system, will stunt the development of anyone we choose. The point is that we are all hoping that their will be a different Pacers head coach next year. A coach dedicated to the effective improvement of young players. It also wouldn’t hurt for some veteran leaderhip, some players to show the young guys how to do the little things that win games. I hope to expand on this subject in the 4th part of this post.
This was a difficult pick to make a recommendation on. All the players available are going to come with a few proven skills and a LOT of question marks. I think the proven skills Craig Brackins brings to the table will provide the most value for the Pacers. He can play spot minutes off the bench at either the 4 or the 5 next year. He can provide some versatility to our offensive sets. There is growth potential in the areas of defense and rebounding. Craig Brackins is a risk, but then again so is everyone else.