The Indiana Pacers are back at the podium after selecting Jaden Ivey 5th overall, and with the 17th overall pick, they select Patrick Baldwin Jr.
Assuming this pick stays around where it is now, I expect the Pacers to have a few options to pick from that are considered “high upside” picks despite possibly having a down year and/or could use another year in college.
There’s a significant chance that a team will take a flyer on Patrick Baldwin Jr. earlier on in the draft, but considering the tumultuous season he had with his father at Milwaukee, there’s just as good of a chance that he takes a big slide. If a player like Brandon Boston Jr. can slide all the way to the 2nd round, then I see no reason why the same couldn’t happen for Baldwin. He was thought to be a consensus high lottery pick early on in the season and was advertised as a Klay Thompson-like shooter at 6’10” but ultimately ended his own season early after a poor showing in just about every department.
To be fair to Baldwin, he was in a very poor situation in Milwaukee on a team that completely lacked NBA talent (let alone high-level NCAA talent) and Synergy statistics suggest he had very few open shot attempts over the course of his season.
While his defense, motor, and perhaps even his attitude will be a concern at the next level, if he can tap into the offensive potential that he showed in his FIBA U19 games, he could be a very good high-upside pick in the late first round. It’s worth noting as well that Jaden Ivey, the Pacers’ earlier pick, was a teammate of Baldwin’s on that FIBA U19 team.
A few other names I could see the Pacers being interested in with this pick are Ousmane Dieng, Malakai Branham, Bryce McGowens, Max Christie, and Kendall Brown.