NBA Draft 2011: How Should Indiana Pacers Approach Their First-Round Selection?
The debate has raged on for many years now. Should you draft based on need, or based on the best player available? For the Indiana Pacers, I think the answer is easier than most people think.
When you have a team like Indiana, that is filled with role players and young, raw talent, drafting based upon need can be quite confusing.
Exactly which position do you need to address? To say that you are completely set and satisfied at one position would be borderline insane. There isn't one player on the roster that you look at and say yes, we are set at that position.
I believe the teams that should draft based on need would be teams like the Lakers, Spurs, Bulls, Celtics and Thunder. Proven teams with superstars, that may have one or two positions where they aren't exactly set.
The Bulls seem to be an elite shooting guard away from being a serious championship contender. Even teams like New York and Orlando appear to just be one player away from making a trip to the Finals. These are the teams that need to draft for need, as they are set at almost every other position, including their bench.
Teams that are in the same boat as Indiana should be also thinking about drafting the best player available. In places like 76ers">Philadelphia, Utah, Minnesota and Detroit, they should be thinking about who is the best player left on the board, regardless of who is on their current roster.
For example, if the Celtics were next on the clock and Derrick Rose was the best player available, why wouldn't you take him? Even if you like Rondo more than Rose, you can still trade one of them and get something very good in return.
In the NBA, there is no such thing as having too many good players on your team.
Whatever Indiana decides to do with their first-round pick is fine, but it shouldn't be the most important thing they do this summer. We should be more concerned with the looming lockout and how the team decides to use their free agency money.
They will have roughly $30 million to throw at the free agents this year, although there really aren't any "A" players available. There are some nice "B" players that would undoubtedly help this team, but there isn't a franchise changing player like a LeBron James or a Dwight Howard this year.
The timing for the Pacers current situation couldn't be much worse. The lockout and the lack of superstar free agents that are available to them this year really leaves them in a strange place.
They are most likely going to have to overpay for one of the free agents, unless they can pull off a trade, which will have to be done before the lockout, making it nearly impossible.
I wouldn't expect either player the Pacers draft this year to be a starter anytime soon, as the top-level talent in this draft just isn't what it used to be. They might be able to get a nice role player, a guy off the bench in the first round.
It will be interesting to see if the second-round pick is able to get a contract, after last year's mess with Lance Stephenson. That being said, the biggest change to the roster will probably come via free agency or through a trade this summer, though the lockout will make things tough.
Larry Bird has said he has his list narrowed down to three players, which doesn't sound convincing to me that he is going to pick based on the best player available.
Things could change though, as the draft can be full of surprises. Stay tuned, the draft is just five days away.
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