For the annual SB Nation NBA blog mock draft, I decided against trading the pick, despite some interest in Domas Sabonis and the pick. However, the mock draft was done before the Anthony Davis trade was reported, so I’m glad I just held my ground, just to see who may be available at No. 18.
P.J. Washington out of Kentucky was my first-round pick for the Pacers as a young stretch-four player who seems more like a four-year college guy than a two-year player. His improvement from freshman to sophomore was easy to see, which gives a strong indication he will continue to work to develop his game at the pro level.
From my mock draft write-up:
At 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan, Washington has the measurables to b a solid NBA four with the ability to knock down threes. During his second season he shot almost four times more threes than his freshman season while improving his 3-point percentage from 23.8% to 42.3%. Washington also has a solid inside game with a smooth jump hook Myles Turner should envy.
As the mock unfolded I felt confident about getting a potential front court player to help fill the gap should the Pacers not bring back Thaddeus Young. Considering the Pacers have worked out fewer first-round projected players than second-round/free agent projected players, it seems likely they are strongly considering moving the pick in a trade.
Also, I’m aware that T.J. Leaf is a similar player you would hope could fill the gap, should Young leave, but at this point I think we can agree, getting quality bench minutes out of Leaf would be a more reliable projection.
Among the players remaining on the board when I picked Washington, my next option would have been Kevin Porter, Jr. The skilled shooting guard may need more time to be a contributor in the playing rotation, but has a base skill set that gives him a higher upside than Washington. But he also is far riskier based on issues he had trying to get on the court to play at USC.
So how would you have selected for the Pacers in this mock draft? Here’s a link to the full mock and to help, here are the players selected after I took Washington.
- Grant Williams - Tennessee
- Bol Bol - Oregon
- Matisse Thybulle - Washington
- Kevin Porter Jr - USC
- Chuma Okeke - Auburn
- Jontay Porter - Missouri
- Tyler Herro - Kentucky
- KZ Okpala - Stanford
- Luka Samanic - Petrol Olimpija (Slovenia)
- Ty Jerome - Virginia
- Nic Claxton - Georgia
- Bruno Fernando - Florida State