Cole Aldrich kicked off the early-entry exodus from college today when he declared his intention to skip his senior season at Kansas and enter the NBA Draft. His hope to be selected among the lottery picks on draft night are backed up by most of the draft prognosticators.
The 6'11" Aldrich has often been projected at by various outlets to go to the Pacers in the middle of the lottery, although with the Pacers recent move back in the pack their projected pick will likely change every other day until the pick is actually made. Still, I have to think any projection of Aldrich to the Pacers is simply done for chortling purposes because he really seems to be a bad fit for the current roster, especially when you consider the core players the team would like to build around.
Why would the Pacers want to take Aldrich?
Roy Hibbert gives the Pacers a young, big center under development with solid upside to be a steady starter or at worst a solid backup for several years. Why take another center who projects at best to be in the same range as Hibbert? The two players differ in that Roy probably has more offensive upside while Aldrich will be better on the rebounding and defensive side of things, but that's no reason to double-up on developmental bigs.
Also, Aldrich is not a 7-footer which does make a difference. Could he play power forward? Probably, but not against every PF in the league and I can only envision a plodding pace with Hibbert and Aldrich playing at the same time, which would be the only time Aldrich at PF would make sense.
Yes, the Pacers need to take the best player available but they also use a dynamic player at every other position to improve the athleticism on the roster. Certainly workouts will expose players that will be a better fit for the Pacers at one of those positions. Plus, Aldrich may be long gone by the time the Pacers pick depending on how the draft order shakes out. (As an aside, I find it interesting that after all of the recent success of point guards making the jump to the NBA that there aren't more projected in the first round at Draft Express and NBADraft.net. Although, NBADraft.net has added a couple recently including Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe.)
Am I off-base with Aldrich and the Pacers? Unless Larry Bird sees the big fella as the second-coming of Kevin McHale, is there a scenario for taking Aldrich that makes sense? I've seen Aldrich play and Kevin McHale doesn't come to mind. I know he's 6'11" and from Minnesota, but that seems like making Hoosier comparisons between Butler and Hickory High. Fits all the parameters of a great story, until you evaluate reality.