Usually, the 26th overall pick in the first round of the NBA Draft isn’t all that sexy. This year’s draft seems suprisingly thin outside of the first few prospects. However, this is a draft year that is heavy with secondary position players who posess many upsides, and who could perform well in the right systems.
The Indiana Pacers, coming off of their best season in nearly a decade, have to wait for 25 other picks to pass by them before they have a chance to draft. With the media tornado that has swept through Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the past few days, anything is possible. In the last 24 hours, Indiana has seen the departure of Larry Bird, and the re-hiring of former Pacers president, Donnie Walsh. There is a strong possibility that Indiana might make a last minute trade to move up into the top ten picks on Thursday night, but for the sake of sanity, we will focus on who the Pacers may take if they stay with the 26th pick in round one of the 2012 NBA Draft.
Indiana needs a solid back-up for All-Star center Roy Hibbert. Last year, with the retirement of Jeff Foster, the Pacers were left with little to no option at reserve center off the bench to give Roy a break. If they decide to go in that much-needed direction, (and if he is still available) the Indiana Pacers will select center Fabrisio de Melo.
Fab Melo (7 ft 0 in, 255 lb) is the perfect fit to sit behind Hibbert. In a league that is increasingly light on actual big men at the center, Indiana could find themselves with a dominant one-two punch at that position after this draft. Melo, who was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, has seen his draft stock fall due to the fact that he was declared academically ineligible to play in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. If Melo slips, the NBA draft lottery’s loss could be Indiana’s gain. The acquisition of another prototypical big man in the middle could give Indiana post-up prospects that many NBA teams could not match. Melo’s skills are raw, and it may take him a while to develop a bit more strength and smoothness to his game. In Indiana, learning from and working with Roy Hibbert, Fab Melo would have time to grow and the opportunity to shine.