2021 INDIANA PACERS DRAFT OUTLOOK
That the Pacers even made it to the Play-In Tournament was a testament to their talent, finishing ninth in spite of significant injuries and a fractious coaching situation under one-and-done Nate Bjorkgren. T.J. Warren, a bubble breakout late last season, lasted four games before a foot injury shut him down. Caris LeVert, acquired in the Victor Oladipo trade, had cancer surgery. Shot blocker Myles Turner missed the final six weeks with an injured toe. Malcolm Brogdon (16) and Domantas Sabonis (10) had double-digit misses too. Bright spots around them such as T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott will test the free agent market. Hiring Rick Carlisle was a step toward stability and commitment to more proven methods. Now it’s on the players and good health.
A Stat That Matters
36% — 36% of Pacers opponents’ shots, the league’s highest opponent rate by a comfortable margin, came in the restricted area. They allowed a league-high 40.4 points per game in the restricted area.
The Way To Go
This will be Indiana’s highest pick since Turner (No. 11) in 2015 and Paul George (No. 10) in 2010. A case can be made that the Pacers need help everywhere except center as long as Sabonis, Turner and Goga Bitadze remain on the roster and if McConnell and/or McDermott leave. They have plenty of players who want the ball, but a playmaking guard or especially a defensively adept wing would scratch a real itch. And who doesn’t need shooting? Names that have been floated for that No. 13 first-rounder include Baylor guard Davion Mitchell, Australia’s Josh Giddey, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Arkansas’ Moses Moody and Michigan’s Franz Wagner.
G: Malcolm Brogdon
G: Aaron Holiday
G: Caris LeVert
G/F: Jeremy Lamb
F/G: Oshae Brissett
F/G: Justin Holiday
F: Kelan Martin
F: T.J. Warren
F/C: Goga Bitadze
F/C: Domantas Sabonis
C/F: Myles Turner
C: Amida Brimah
G: T.J. McConnell (unrestricted)
G: Cassius Stanley (restricted)
G: Edmond Sumner (team option)
F: Doug McDermott (unrestricted)
F: JaKarr Sampson (unrestricted)
PLAYERS THE PACERS COULD SELECT AT #13
6-1 / 202 lbs
• Davion Mitchell is a dynamic, relentless guard who made huge strides as a shooter and shot creator as a junior to lead Baylor to the program’s first National Championship last season. Widely regarded as a top-60 prospect in the high school class of 2017 after his senior year at Liberty County High School (GA), Mitchell spent one season filling a reserve role at Auburn before transferring to Baylor. Sitting out a year before emerging as a starter as a sophomore, Mitchell helped key Baylor’s rise as one of the best defensive teams in the country. Averaging 14.1 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game last season under coach Scott Drew, he took his game to an entirely different level to earn All-Big XII 1st Team and Defensive Player of the Year honors as the Bears dominated the Final Four.
• Listed at 6-foot-1 with a strong 201-pound frame to go along with an even wingspan, Mitchell may not be especially long, but has a tremendous combination of quickness and physicality for a guard.
• Flashing the ability to get to spots with the ball as an underclassman, Mitchell stepped into a more prominent offensive role as a junior as his improvement as a jump shooter opened up his offensive game. Able to slide off the ball in multi-guard lineups but playing primarily point guard, he shredded opposing defenses with his ability to change speeds and get downhill with or without a ball screen. Shooting the three at a high level all year and doing a much better job using his quickness to make plays for others than he did as a sophomore, Mitchell turned a corner last season to emerge as one of the more dynamic guards in college basketball.
• Mitchell proved to be a stifling defender as well. With the quickness to pressure opposing ball handlers into mistakes, the toughness to defend bigger guards, an urgency closing out shooters, and a knack for getting a hand on the ball, Mitchell took over several big games for the Bears with his ability to make an impact on both ends.
• After playing off the ball quite a bit as a sophomore, Mitchell took on a more substantial shot creating burden as a junior with over half of his possessions coming in isolation or ball screen situations. A shifty ball handler whose ability to stop and start with the ball and sharp footwork allowed him to create separation at will, he averaged a massively improved 1.14 points per pull-up jump shot in the half court [95th percentile] as he showed the ability to stop and pop with a consistency he lacked early in his career.
• Using the threat of his jumper to get downhill, Mitchell drove and moved the ball with purpose last season scoring 1.26 points per shot around the rim in the half court [72nd percentile] and emerging as a prolific drive and kick threat. Able to play above the rim in space, Mitchell’s size still worked against him in spots and he has room to improve his floater, but his ability to attack the rim and make quick reads was crucial to Baylor’s strong play on the offensive end.
• Doing an excellent job sparking the break, Mitchell’s unselfishness and ability to use his speed to simplify the game for others stood out in the open floor as he ranked among the most efficient transition threats in the country while generating as many assists as he attempted shots pushing the break.
• Making an effort to run the wings in transition and scoring 1.31 points per catch and shoot jump shot [91st percentile], Mitchell did not need the ball in his hands to contribute last season and showed the versatility to score efficiently alongside a ball-dominant guard.
• He still has some room to improve as a free throw shooter despite his otherwise impressive consistency away from the rim.
• Mitchell is a mature defensive player with an impressive combination of quickness, intensity, and toughness. He allowed 0.77 points per isolation possession [45th percentile] last season while often guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer regardless of position. Doing a terrific job beating opposing ball handlers to spots, he proved adept at drawing charges or getting a hand on the ball .
• An attentive off-ball defender with a nose for the ball and a competitive streak, Mitchell may not be overly long, but has more versatility than most players his size and figures to have a chance to hold his own on the defensive end early in his career.
6-8 / 200 lbs
About Josh Giddey
• Josh Giddey is a young point-forward with tremendous instincts as a passer coming off an impressive rookie year with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian NBL. The Melbourne native emerged as a prospect in his mid-teens earning a call to the NBA Global Academy, showing well at the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, participating in the NBA Academy Games, and making his Australian National Team debut before joining the 36ers through the NBL Next Stars program ahead of the 2020-21 season. Averaging 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per-game under Adelaide Head Coach and former NBA guard Conner Henry, Giddey had a breakout year as a rookie.
• Listed at 6’8 with a 200-pound frame to go along with an even wingspan, Giddey is not especially long or explosive and has room to get stronger but has tremendous size for a primary ball handler.
• An instinctual player with excellent vision, Giddey led the NBL in assists per game despite ranking among its youngest players. Displaying an advanced feel for facilitating out ball screens, making creative plays in the open floor, and scoring opportunistically around the rim, Giddey’s pace, craftiness, and unselfish approach shined in the NBL. He still has significant room to improve as a jump shooter to help keep defenders honest, but has some unique tools as a playmaker for a prospect his age.
• Ranking in the top-5 in the NBL in rebounds and displaying good timing getting in the passing lanes, Giddey’s strong feel for the game translated to the defensive end as well, but his ability to become more physical could be key to his ability to hold his own at the next level.
• Applying his talent as a passer prolifically as a rookie, Giddey generated almost twice as many points with his passes out of pick and rolls than he scored himself. He posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9 in the half court, and showed the ability to dart long pin-point passes to the open man reading defenders on the move. The 18-year-old guard displayed unique court vision for a lead guard, let alone a teenager playing at a high level for the first time.
• Manipulating defenders playing with pace, Giddey is far more crafty than he is explosive getting to spots off the dribble. With almost half of his attempts coming around the rim, he averaged 1.32 points per finishing opportunity inside [74th percentile] and 0.75 points per floater [45th percentile] as he did a solid job picking and choosing his spots inside, possesses soft touch with both hands, and showed some ability to use his size to his advantage spinning off smaller defenders. While he did not draw many fouls attacking the rim, he was quite opportunistic in close.
• Giddey’s ability to maximize his passing ability and craftiness off the dribble is rooted in his jump shooting ability. Averaging 0.82 points per jump shot in the half court [32nd percentile], he has some things to clean up mechanically to keep opposing teams honest in ball screen coverages.
• Ranked 2nd in the NBL in points created per game by passes out of the pick and roll (9.4 points per game)
• Making use of his size and instincts on the glass, Giddey finished the year ranked among most productive rebounding guards in NBL history. Making some plays in the passing lanes, his anticipation skills translated off the ball as well.
• Giving up physicality in some matchups and lacking a degree of length, Giddey has room to grow as an individual defender to ease his transition to the next level.
6-7 / 223 lbs
About Corey Kispert
• Corey Kispert is a mature swingman with a reliable shooting stroke who improved steadily over his four year career at Gonzaga which culminated with one of the most efficient individual offensive seasons in college basketball history and a National Championship appearance. Widely regarded as a top-100 prospect in the high school class of 2017 following his senior season at King’s High School (WA), Kispert emerged as a contributor for the Bulldogs as a true freshman. Averaging 8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore in his first season as a full-time starter under Head Coach Mark Few, he solidified as a valuable two-way contributor alongside Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke. Making massive strides over his last two seasons in Spokane, Kispert averaged 18.6 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 44% from beyond the arc as a senior to earn WCC Player of the Year and Consensus All-American 1st Team honors.
• Listed at 6’7 with a solid 223-pound frame and average length, Kispert is a capable athlete who can catch lobs pretty impressively but is more strong than quick defensively.
• Establishing himself as one of the best shooters and most polished all-around players in college basketball last season, Kispert filled a prominent role for a talented Bulldogs team. Showing a tremendous feel for relocating off the ball, sprinting to the arc in transition, and running off screens, Kispert did much of his damage in catch and shoot situations, but also showed the ability to finish strong inside, put the ball on the floor a bit looking to create, drain pull-ups, and keep opposing defenses in rotation. His maturity was apparent and a key part of Gonzaga’s early season dominance.
• A competitive defender with no shortage of big-game experience and the physicality to put a body on bigger forwards, Kispert held his own at both forward spots last season even if he was not always able to effect shooters rotating off the ball.
• Ranking among the top shooters in college basketball, over half of Kispert’s shot attempts were catch and shoot jump shots last season. Proving to be a very reliable perimeter threat overall while running especially hot on several notable occasions, Kispert scored 1.21 points per catch and shoot jump shot in the half court [81st percentile]. He was tremendously consistent spotting up in space as his compact shooting motion seldom waivered when he did not have a hand in his face.
• Shooting the ball at a high-level in limited attempts off the dribble, Kispert found shots in a variety of ways on the perimeter displaying a strong feel for moving off the ball and the ability to stop and pop with range against sagging defenders in limited opportunities handling the ball.
• While he forced little off the dribble and is not an especially dynamic ball handler, Kispert’s timing as a cutter and ability to take the ball strong to the rim when he could get downhill helped him average 1.32 points per shot around the rim in the half court [80th percentile]. Bouncier than one might expect with a head of steam and adept at picking and choosing his spots, Kispert proved to be more than just a shooter.
• His opportunistic style translated particularly well in the open floor as he averaged a historically efficient 1.55 points per transition possession [97th percentile].
• Checking some other boxes keeping the ball moving consistently and even making some reads out of ball screens , Kispert has obvious roleplayer potential.
• Ranked 1st in the NCAA and 1st in the WCC in offensive efficiency (1.24 points per possession)
• Ranked 1st in the WCC in transition scoring (5.4 points per game)
• Ranked 1st in the WCC in spot up scoring (5.5 points per game)
• Ranked 3rd in the WCC in off screen scoring (1.5 points per game)
• Kispert is a steady, experienced defender with a good motor and whose physicality outweighed his lack of length at the collegiate level. Allowing 0.72 points per isolation possession [51st percentile], he held his own on the ball in many matchups but gave up quickness to more dynamic shot creators and could not always effect shooters when looking to contest on the perimeter.
• Making an effort to use verticality contesting inside and box out bigger forwards, Kispert did some little things and was seldom out of place on the defensive end as a senior.
6-5 / 211 lbs
About Moses Moody
• Moses Moody is a developing shot-maker with prototypical physical tools for an NBA shooting guard who exceeded expectations as a freshman serving as the first option of an Arkansas team that made it to the Elite Eight. Widely regarded as one of the top-40 prospects in the high school class of 2020 following his senior year at Montverde Academy (FL), the Little Rock native returned to Arkansas to play in Head Coach Eric Musselman’s fast-paced offense. Averaging 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game to earn All-SEC 1st Team and Freshman of the Year honors, Moody played a key role in the Razorbacks’ surge in the second half of SEC play.
• Listed at 6’6 with an improving 205-pound frame to go along with a 7’1 wingspan, Moody has terrific dimensions for a wing and is a capable athlete, even if he has room to get stronger.
• Playing primarily off the ball for the Razorbacks, Moody did much of his damage away from the rim as a freshman. Showing significant improvement as a three-point shooter, flashing the ability to rise and fire running off screens, and knocking down midrange shots at a solid rate, Moody contributed from the perimeter scoring in a variety of ways. Doing a nice job drawing fouls when attacking the rim, at his best last season, the 18-year-old guard was an efficient three-level scorer.
• Possessing tremendous length for his size, Moody defended multiple positions last season as Arkansas often played multiple guards. Getting low, sliding his feet, and contesting impressively some possessions, Moody is a willing defender and rebounder who has room to become more solid off the ball.
• A smooth shooter with improved mechanics, Moody did much of his damage off the ball in Arkansas’s motion sets. Nearly half of his shots in the half court were catch and shoot jumpers which he converted for 1.08 points per set shot in the half court [63rd percentile]. Taking and making some contested shots spotting up, running to the three-point line in transition, and moving off screens, Moody was a bit streaky from the deep, but proved to be a potent perimeter threat when he could find his range.
• More than just a floor spacer, Moody was fairly aggressive looking to attack closeouts. Regularly stepping into one-dribble jumpers in the midrange, he averaged 0.82 points per pull-up jump shot in the half court [58th percentile] displaying nice touch from 15-feet and getting into his shot fluidly. As effective as he was as a shot-maker some nights, he has room to pick and choose his spots a bit more consistently.
• Moody is not a particularly prolific slasher or polished ball handler, but was able to take what defenses gave him around the rim both on and off the ball. He can play above the rim in space, did a nice job sneaking in on the glass, and embraced contact inside averaging 1.10 points per finishing opportunity in the half court [45th percentile]. When he was able to get downhill, he did a nice job finding contact, but could see the easy play more frequently on the move.
• Ranked 4th in the SEC in put back scoring (2.2 points per game)
• Ranked 5th in the SEC in off screen scoring (1.8 points per game)
• Possessing terrific length for a wing, Moody held his own defensively as a freshman. Allowing 0.79 points per one-on-one possession [42nd percentile], he fared pretty well on the ball often getting low, trying to play angels on the perimeter, and even putting a body on bigger forwards in the post.
• Moody also had some positive moment closing out shooters, even if he is still learning how to make rotations consistently. His length was often a plus when contesting shots on the perimeter and around the rim.
6-9 / 220 lbs
About Franz Wagner
• Franz Wagner is a big wing with a versatile game whose improvement as a sophomores helped lift Michigan to an Elite Eight appearance. Born in Germany, Wagner emerged from the shadow of his older brother, NBA veteran Moritz Wagner, early in his career as he solidified himself as one of the best prospects in Germany in his own right in his mid-teens. Playing primarily at the junior for ALBA Berlin early in his career, Wagner broke through at the senior level during 2018-19 season when he carved out a steady role in the EuroCup and German BBL. Gaining valuable experience and earning BBL Best German Young Player honors, Wagner rode that momentum into a strong showing at the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship before following in his brother’s footsteps at Michigan. Emerging as a valuable piece on a veteran team as an 18-year-old freshman, Wagner showed significant growth under Head Coach Juwan Howard averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game to earn All-Big Ten 2nd Team honors in a more demanding role as a sophomore.
• Listed at 6’9 with a noticeably improved 220-pound frame and solid length, Wagner is a fluid athlete with very good size and instincts for a wing who is younger than many of this draft’s one-and-done prospects.
• Playing almost exclusively off the ball as a freshman, Wagner was able to show his versatility as a sophomore still serving as a key floor spacer, but also getting some opportunities to handle the ball in the pick and roll, push the break, and take smaller wings in the post. A competitive player with a solid feel for the game, he flashed intriguing roleplayer potential while seeing minutes at both forward spots. Showing the ability to make sound decisions off the bounce and a good activity level playing off the ball, Wagner contributed in a variety of ways offensively and proved especially productive when he could find his range early in games.
• An active defender with significant experience at the professional level already, Wagner did a lot of little things on that end of the floor for the Wolverines last season getting in the passing lanes with good timing and making an effort to help protect the rim and rebound. He made major strides with his frame as a sophomore that helped him play a more physical brand of defense and still looks like he has room to get stronger which could afford him some opportunity to slide between the forward spots.
• A capable all-around offensive player, Wagner did much of his damage spacing the floor at the college level with a third of his possessions coming in spot up situations. Making some strides as a set shooter as a sophomore averaging 1.02 points per catch and shoot jump shot in the half court [54th percentile], doing a terrific job attacking closeouts with long strides, and able to make reads as a passer on the move, Wagner had some very strong stretches for the Wolverines. He was somewhat streaky from beyond the arc, but looked more fluid with his release both off the catch and off the dribble than he did as a freshman and shows a consistency at the foul line that leaves room for optimism about his potential as a shooter.
• An instinctive player off the ball who likes to attack the rim, Wagner scored 1.18 points per possession in transition [76th percentile] and 1.11 points per shot around the rim in the half court [47th percentile]. He is not overwhelmingly quick or physical off the bounce to turn the corner at will, but is comfortable attacking gaps, takes care of the ball, and can play above the rim with a head of steam.
• Making the easy play passing on the move and relocating well off the ball, Wagner’s ability to do a little bit of everything helped him earn minutes as a teenager with ALBA and made him a cog for what looked like one of the best teams in the country for long stretches of last season.
• Wagner is a diligent defender with a strong grasp of the fundamentals both on and off the ball. Making an effort to rotate, box out, fight around screens, and get a hand up on shooters, he was very solid last season.
• Though Wagner gave up quickness and strength in some high-end matchups, he showed good instincts getting in the passing lanes and using verticality around the rim as a team defender.