After selecting Jarace Walker and securing their defensive anchor earlier in the draft, the Indiana Pacers are back at the podium and this time opt to take a swing on more offensive firepower. With the 26th overall pick, the Pacers select Pepperdine sophomore Maxwell Lewis. Lewis cooled off considerably throughout the draft cycle after at one point being considered a potential lottery pick, but the tools for long-term success are still very much there despite his inconsistencies.
This is a bit of an awkward place for the Pacers to be selecting, especially since they’ll be back up at the podium for a third time with the 28th overall pick, so I think both of these later picks could be dealt in a trade to move up the draft board. But if the Pacers do end up keeping both later picks, swinging for upside while they still can is probably the better route for the team while their roster is still young.
There are still some notable high-upside players left on the board that the Pacers would be passing on by selecting Lewis here, but as far as 1st round wing prospects go, I’d say Lewis has the best odds at improving as a defender at the next level. Combine that with the fact that the Pacers’ biggest positional need after taking Walker also happens to be at the small forward spot, and this pick would make a good amount of sense here.