SLAMonline Mock Draft: Ekpe Udoh, No. 10
And now on the clock, the most irrelevant franchise in the NBA.
by Jonathan Santiago / @ITSjonsantiago
It’s what the Indiana Pacers have managed to achieve lately. They haven’t been good enough to make the Playoffs nor have they been bad enough to land a top three pick.
Winning teams and even losing teams (case-and-point: the 2010 New Jersey Nets) get pub.
But when you’re mediocre, you’re not even relevant.
And it’s unfortunate for the Pacers’ star player, Danny Granger, who (yes it’s an overused statement, but I’m going to say it anyways) is one of the NBA’s best kept secrets.
For the most part, the direction of the franchise has seemed to follow a downward trajectory since the infamous Malice in the Palace debacle. But more recently, they’ve leveled off into an average, pedestrian state Hoosier fans have come to know as Pacers basketball.
What make matters even worst for the Pacers are the many holes they have. On paper, this team looks like it should’ve finished with a record worse than the Wizards, Sixers, Nets and Timberwolves, all squads selecting in the top four of this year’s draft. Outside of Granger at small forward, what positions do they have secure?
Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy are both in the final years of their contracts, which mean their long-term statuses are up in the air. Dahntay Jones is signed to a multi-year deal, but he’s obviously not a go-to-guy. Roy Hibbert, despite losing weight and showing improvement in ‘08-09, still has a ways to go. Their ’09 draft choice, Tyler Hansbrough played in only 29 games due to a season mired in injuries. And to cap things off, Earl Watson beat out TJ Ford to start at point guard for them — ’nuff said about that position.
So where do the Pacers go?
They could make the sentimental pick with Gordon Hayward, the hometown hero who was this close to making the greatest shot in basketball history. Or they could select Nevada’s Luke Babbitt, another sophomore who best-case scenario is the second-coming of Chris Mullin or worst-case, Adam Morrison. Both would actually fit Head Coach Jim O’Brien’s up-tempo, three-point shooting offense. And selecting either one would also help the Pacers in their on-going team makeover that would make even Michael Jackson jealous.
But not too many folks are high on Hayward’s strengths translating to the NBA. And though Babbitt has no trouble getting his shot up, his defensive ability leaves much to be desired. Besides, rumor has it that Larry Legend is looking to address the power forward and point guard positions, which means a no to both Hayward and Babbitt.
The one is a tougher position to plug. Outside of John Wall, the point guard waters are murky in the 2010 draft, which is a far cry from last season’s pool. Avery Bradley might be the best potential point guard on the board when the Pacers select tenth. Yes, there are comparisons to Russell Westbrook, but let’s not get carried away. At least Westbrook had some semblance of unselfishness at UCLA unlike Bradley, who is “prone to showing tunnel vision” according to Draft Express’ Assistant Director of Scouting Joseph Treutlein.
That leaves the four, which brings us to the selection.
With the 10th pick in the 2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft the Indiana Pacers select…
Ekpe Udoh from Baylor University.
Patrick Patterson and Hassan Whiteside were also both considered. Patterson was passed on due to the presence of Hansbrough, who essentially is the same type of role-playing power forward. And though Whiteside’s freakish physical assets seemed tempting, his maturity level raised red flags.
Udoh might be the best player available at this point of the SLAMonline Mock Draft. But he also fits the bill for what the Pacers might be looking for later this month. They could use a big man who possesses versatility to play both power forward and center, since their long-term solutions, Hansbrough and Hibbert, aren’t flexible enough to play both positions. Defensively, Udoh would also bring another shot-blocking presence to go alongside Granger. Offensively, he possesses enough low-post skills and a mid-range game to potentially provide the Pacers with a scoring threat. But most importantly, his passing ability to find cutters and shooters could prove highly valuable in the Pacers’ fast-pace offense.
|2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|3||New Jersey||Derrick Favors||18||Miami|
|5||Sacramento||Greg Monroe||20||San Antonio|
|6||Golden State||Wesley Johnson||21||OKC|
|8||L.A. Clippers||Al-Farouq Aminu||23||Minnesota|