2011 NBA Draft: Five Things the Pacers Need to Find with Their Two Picks
This year will be different though since they will have the first pick outside of the lottery selections; picking 15th this year isn't much worse than in previous drafts where they have selected in the 11-14 range. They have been hit or miss in the past, but Indiana needs to find a solid player now more than ever.
Coming off their grueling playoff series with the Bulls, Indiana is now recognized as one of the young up-and-coming teams in the league. Their fourth-quarter collapses in four of their five playoff games really showed the areas where they need help though.
As we get closer to the June 23 draft, it might become easier for some of the teams picking in the top five to get a feel for who they want. There will be 14 players taken before Indiana gets a chance to select their first-rounder, and they are in the middle of the pack in the second round as well.
With so many guys who can fill specific needs, it will be almost impossible to determine who the Pacers will select until they are on the clock. In my opinion, these are the five most important areas they need to address in the draft.
Someone Who Can Score
Everyone knows Danny Granger can score fairly consistently in this offense.
The problem that we saw in late-game situations in the playoffs though was no one seemed comfortable taking shots near the end.
There was no reliable scorer, which led to turnovers and missed shots. Brandon Rush has also shown he is not capable of double-figure scoring night in and night out. Granger might want to take the last shot in every game, but he isn't even close to being a clutch player.
A Big Body Inside to Help Hibbert
Of course every team wants to find one of these guys.
While Roy Hibbert has progressed in his first couple years, he still has a ways to go before he becomes the go-to option.
The Pacers should be more concerned with the power forward position.
Josh McRoberts is a free agent, and Tyler Hansbrough isn't exactly a starter in this league—yet. Having a big body down to help Hibbert rebound and block shots at the rim is a must if they want to get back to the playoffs next year.
Knowing Your Role
There shouldn't be any thought of finding that "steal" of the draft or turning a player into something he's not.
Finding a guy who knows his role on this team is more important. Looking at the championship teams of the last decade, they have all had role-players who knew their spots on the team.
While this draft certainly isn't one of the most talented classes, it should be deep enough to find a potential role-player. Guys like Dahntay Jones understand why they are here and what the coaches are looking for when they enter the game.
It sounds cliche, but the truth is Indiana does not want another Lance Stephenson on the team.
They were criticized for taking him in the second round last season, and rightfully so. He was in trouble before the year began and really never played.
The Pacers have come too far and worked too hard to get the bad character guys. Stephenson caused some problems in the locker room last season, which is something that needs to stop.
Defense, Defense, Defense
There is a reason so many people still say defense wins championships.
That certainly holds true in the NBA, as the last four remaining teams in the playoffs this year were each extremely good on the defensive end.
Playing defense is more than just about how quick you can slide your feet and get a hand up in the shooter's face. Team defense is even more important, and having the knowledge and mental toughness to stop guys such as Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony in the Eastern Conference will be vital for future success.