Mar 3, 2012; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Miles Plumlee (21) dunks over North Carolina Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller (44) during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE
The Indiana Pacers stopped the NBA draft in its tracks when they selected center Miles Plumlee out of Duke. As usual, Larry Bird and the Pacers went away from all of the pre-draft indications and selected a player not many, if any, expected to go at No. 26.
So why pick a projected second round pick so early?
Look, I realize the 26th pick in the NBA draft is not going to produce a franchise-changing player, but the Pacers could've made the same trade they did with Sacramento and taken Plumlee with the 36th pick (bold assumption on my part that he would be there, I know). With some young talent in Marquis Teague or Perry Jones still on the board the Pacers instead reached to take the 23-year old Plumlee.
I have a feeling the phones at the Pacers ticket office weren't exactly ringing off the hook. I mean, nothing sells better than analyst Jay Bilas, a fellow Dukie, pumping up the pick of Plumlee by saying the 24 second clock in the NBA will help because it gives Plumlee less time to think. Sweet.
Larry Bird explained that they loved Plumlee's athleticism as he reminded front office of Jeff Foster, plus they think he can come in and play right away. Bird mentioned the team doesn't have a center right now (they will when Roy Hibbert is re-signed) so Plumlee will try to fill that spot Foster had off the bench that Lou Amundson tried his best to fill last season.
Plumlee may turn out to be the perfect energy guy off the bench that can help protect the rim, which is a desperate need for the Pacers right now. I have no problem with Plumlee the player joining the roster, but making him a reach pick...at No. 26 was tough to see as Larry Bird's last big call for the Pacers.
It also makes me wonder what plans the Pacers have for Tyler Hansbrough. The two aren't exact replicas on the roster but the type of minute they would expect to play will collide at some point with an odd man out. But the draft is just the start of the offseason for the Pacers with free agency and more trades expected to alter the bench that will now have Plumlee on it trying to earn some minutes.
Hopefully, Bird has the last laugh on this one while relaxing on his hiatus from the game.