clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NBA Draft: Do What You Do Best, Larry: Swing Away

After months and months of pre-draft overanalysis, Larry Bird would be best served channeling a familiar, but simple strategy on draft night.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, Thon, Cheick, Dejounte, Malik, Malachi, Furkan, Ben, you better be ready.

You better make sure your suit's pressed (some variation of Blue-and-Gold tint is highly encouraged), your smile's locked in, your hair's crappy-hat prepped, and please, no nappin' through the first round no matter how many mock drafts say that you should. Why? Because Larry Bird's coming for you.

Full disclosure: I don't know that for sure. I've got about as much NBA insider knowledge as an orangutan, but it's not really about whether I'm right or wrong, it's about what's best for the franchise, and recent history suggests what's best for the franchise is for Larry to take a chance on draft night.

I'm not saying playing it safe would be a cataclysmic event. I'm sure Brice Johnson wouldn't mind the gesture. Nor would Taurean Prince, Denzel Valentine, Demetrius Jackson, Domantas Sabonis, and the like. And I'm sure former Pacers, Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, Miles Plumlee, and Solomon Hill would love to the first ones there to usher in the latest member of the Blue and Gold's Play-It-Safe Fraternity.

But that's just the point. Take another glance at that group. Rush: Professional Rider of Coattails. Hibbert: Endangered NBA Species. Hansbrough: Football Guy Playing Basketball. Plumlee: Backup big. Hill: Rotational player ... maybe.

In other words: "Meh." 

Which begs the question: do the Pacers really need more safe at No. 20? I guess you say they do, or, rather, they could. They need anything that even remotely ups their chances of retaining Paul George in the next few years, and if that means drafting safely, then by all means, draft safely. 

But allow me to be more specific: how confident are you that Larry Bird, the drafter, can add another core piece by playing it safe?

I know what you're thinking "Whether Larry plays it safe or not, he isn't finding a core piece at 20..." And normally I'd agree with you, except for one thing: Larry's really good at swinging away.

Chad Ford recently subscribed to this same theory during a Q-and-A with the Mothership:

Ford: "...Larry Bird is the type of general manager that can ignore some of the weaknesses that players have in college. He did it with [Paul George], Myles Turner last year, as well, and takes swings, and it seems like Larry Bird is a lot better when he's swinging for the fences than he is when he's trying to play it safe. He seems to be much better at actually drafting when he swings, so if Dejounte Murray is there, I think that'll be their guy. I think a couple of other 2 guards are also on the table there, Malachi Richardson out of Syracuse, there's a lot of interest there, Furkan Korkmaz, if he's there out of Turkey, another guy who can shoot the ball and pass the ball, I think are really attractive."

George, Lance Stephenson, and Myles Turner do a lot, er, do everything to support Ford's hypothesis. While each player was red-flagged with question marks pre-draft, each one became a core piece one way or another, and with the exception of Hibbert, each one developed into a stronger core piece than any of the other play-it-safe candidates a few paragraphs up.

So back to Thon, Cheick, Dejounte, Malik, Malachi, Furkan and Ben.

Again, be ready. Because you better believe Larry will be should he deem you worthy of the next swing-away mantle.