The Indiana Pacers should have a pretty simple approach at this point in the draft: pick the best player available that will complement Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, and to a lesser extent, Myles Turner and Andrew Nembhard as well. But just as importantly, the Pacers are sorely in need of defensive upside as this is something that their core is generally lacking as a unit, perhaps outside of Chris Duarte.
Thankfully for the Pacers, two names that are still available immediately stick out in a big way: Houston’s Jarace Walker and UCF’s Taylor Hendricks. Both players are big, switchable defenders that are solid athletes and possess some shooting upside—all things I would be ecstatic to find in a draft pick at 7th overall. Frankly, this could be a bit of a toss-up, but in this case, I have the Pacers selecting who I think would be the better match for a team with Rick Carlisle at the helm in Walker.
Determining which player has the higher ceiling is a bit difficult in this instance—Hendricks is the more fluid athlete and is the more polished shot-blocker and three-point shooter, and despite still being quite raw, has shown a few interesting flashes of self-creation on offense. But Walker is the more polished two-way player at this point with more developed ancillary skills; namely his ball-handling ability and playmaking. If I were forced to guess, I’d say that Indiana will value the connective tissue that Walker can provide on both ends of the floor ever so slightly more than Hendricks’ safer shooting projection.