The Indiana Pacers released the roster and bios for their Rookie/Free Agent camp which begins on Thursday for three days of two-a-day practices. Then the team will head down to Orlando to take part in the Pepsi Pro League next week.
With summer league comes hope of unearthing a diamond in the rough, an overlooked player who rises to the challenge, surpassing everyone's expectations to go on and make an impact in the NBA. It goes without saying that the Pacers are due for a player like this to emerge from the basketball heavens to help accelerate the team's move in a positive direction.
There are certainly some intriguing prospects among the D-League vets, but I'm focused on two rooks as possible options to make a lasting impression, as in lasting on the roster into the regular season.
Aaron Jackson and Leo Lyons were two player the Pacers worked out prior to the NBA Draft. They obviously have something missing from their games to be left undrafted, but both have good size and boast successful college careers.
The review of Jackson's play at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has plenty of glowing remarks which indicate the PG prospect has something to offer as a tough player who understands how to lead a team. Plus, at 6'4" he bring some nice size to the backcourt. If he plays well enough against the heightened competition next week, the Pacers may view him as a backup plan should Jarrett Jack be signed away by another team. He also can put pressure on A.J. Price, forcing the second round pick to earn his way onto the roster which won't be guaranteed.
Leo Lyons a desirable skill set and decent size to compete at the power forward position. This review of his play at Portsmouth, mentions some of his problem areas, mainly at the defensive end. It sounds like he has the ability to defend but really needs to hone his skills at the defensive end. In the fight or flight scenario of trying out for an NBA team we'll see if he can take coaching and raise his level of play.
Interestingly, Lyons comes in at about the same size as Josh McRoberts. Obviously, McRoberts has an advantage having been with the Pacers for a year and also by working out religiously at the Fieldhouse since last season ended. BUT, with McRoberts due at least a minimum salary of just over $1 million dollars (his qualifying offer was $1,000,497), if Lyons comes out of nowhere and shows he can outplay McRoberts, you'd think the team would have to think about saving $4-5 hundred thousand dollars by signing Lyons. This would be a surprising turn of events but the Pacers do have until July 23rd to withdraw their qualifying offer.
I raise these "ifs and buts" scenarios because the Pacers have to make efficient use of every dollar on their salary cap. Having a rookie free agent burst onto the scene and make the team at a minimum salary would be a nice bonus heading into next season. Plus, dreamers gotta dream, baby!