Larry Bird’s last NBA Draft during his tenure with the Indiana Pacershad its fair share of questions and surprises. The Pacers, who were only slated to have one pick in the first two rounds of last night’s draft, shook things up and raised more than a few eyebrows when it was all said and done.
Indiana’s lone pick was the 26th overall in the first round. It may have seemed hard to the Indiana draft room to be forced to sit on their thumbs as future stars of the NBA went one-by-one to rival teams. When it was their time to draft, the Pacers seemed to still have the guy they were looking for, although it was a head-scratcher of a pick to some.
The Pacers drafted Duke senior forward (and Warsaw, Indiana native) Miles Plumlee with their first round pick. Plumlee did come to workout for the Pacers a few weeks ago, and although that workout went well, Plumlee wasn’t on many mock draft lists for Indiana or many other teams. Regardless, Indiana used the 26th pick on a sturdy, aggressive, accurate, and fundamentally sound player. Plumlee, who is a frog’s hair short of 7 ft tall, could be used in a few key roles, including as a reserve to back up center Roy Hibbert off the bench. Plumlee, who has a 40 in standing vertical, pulled in a all-time high 22 rebounds in a game for Duke last season.
The other surprise came in the second round, when Indiana gave up cash consideration to the Sacramento Kingsfor the 36th pick and the rights to draft UC Santa Barbara senior guard Orlando Johnson. Johnson, who scored 19.7 points per game last season, leaves college as his school’s all-time leading scorer. Johnson will have time to bloom on this deep Indiana roster. He comes to the team with speed and a full-on attacking attitude toward the basket, that could help Indiana’s second unit push the ball with more force and aggression.