Reggie Bullock, No. 23 (Mock Draft)
The Pacers bolster their bench with the UNC standout.
by Yaron Weitzman | @YaronWeitzman
Rarely is the 24th pick in the Draft an important one or something that could greatly impact the upcoming season. Sure, value can be found that low, but no contending team—which are the teams that posses picks at this point in the Draft—would ever enter a season banking on receiving some sort of contribution from a rookie they scooped up just minutes prior to the start of the Adam Silver’s annual Night Of Glorification.
Except that the Indiana Pacers may have to.
The Pacers are close. Reallyyyyy close.
They have one of, if not the best defenses in the NBA. They don’t allow opponents to shoot threes or get to the rim. They have a bunch of tenacious, athletic, long-armed guards and swingmen running around the perimeter and the ever-vertical Roy Hibbert protecting the paint. They have a budding offensive star in Paul George. Defense may have been the backbone of the ’12-13 Pacers, but by the time the regular season came to end Frank Vogel had also managed to turn their previously anemic offense into a respectable one.
Indiana finished the season 22nd in the NBA in points per 100 possessions, but was 11th in offensive efficiency in 29 games after the All-Star break. That improvement was mainly the result of a prolific starting five, that, as it played more and more minutes together, became increasingly comfortable with one another.
The problem was that a starting five was pretty much all the Pacers had.
Depth and three-point shooting are, for the most, the only things Indiana does not have. Considering that this year they were just one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000, if the Pacers were able to add one of both of these weapons to their roster, well, is it crazy to think that doing so could be enough to get over that proverbial hump? Sure, the return of Danny Granger (assuming he’s brought back) will help in both these areas, but as this year’s Finals is proving, when the rest of the pieces are in place, three-point shooting can be the difference between winning your last game in June and losing it. It’s certainly something you can never have too much of. With that in mind…
With the 23rd pick in the 2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Indiana Pacers select…
Reggie Bullock from North Carolina.
Bullock is a perfect fit for the Paces…or rather, as perfect a fit as they could expect to find at No. 23. For one, he can shoot. Really well. He shot 43 percent from deep last season at North Carolina (his third at Chapel Hill), and did so attempting nearly six threes a game. At 6-7, he’s also tall enough to get his shot off over defenders, and, as his 2.8 assists per game and 54 percent shooting inside the arc last year showed, he has the ability to do other things on the court aside from just spotting up in a corner and launching bombs.
No, Bullock is never going to be an offensive playmaker, but the fact that he is capable of putting the ball on the floor will make defenders think twice about how they close out on him. Not only could he make a Danny Green-like contribution to Indiana, but, assuming his shooting translates to the next level (and there’s really no reason to think it won’t), his presence alone should do wonders for the guys like Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West.
But what makes Bullock a perfect fir for Indiana, and the right pick here at No. 23, and a guy who can actually end up giving the Pacers more than, say, a shoot-and-do-nothing-else player like Steve Novak gives the Knicks, is his size. Indiana loves size. It’s built its defensive scheme—going over pick-and-rolls and willingly surrendering long 2s—around the fact that it has it at every position. Even when opponents are “open,” there’s always a Pacer arm or hand or something coming from somewhere on the court ready to contest a shot or pass. Bullock, with his 6-7 frame and 6-10 wingspan and quick feet, should be able to not just fit into this system but also enhance it.
Think about this: You have a Pacers team, one that wiped the floor with the Knicks and took the Heat to seven games, except now you’ve added two new players to the rotation. One (Granger) is a former 20-point-a-game scorer who is 6-8, can shoot from deep, and create his own shot. The other is a 6-7 marksman with arms long enough to give opponents fits. You can play the two of them with George and go small. You can play one of them with George and go big. You can play them both together and give George, or Lance Stephenson, or David West, a break—something none of them were able to get in the Playoffs.
It’s not that Bullock should be expected to be a star. It’s that when a team is as close as the Pacers are, every extra contribution—from a few possessions with more floor spacing to 10 extra minutes of rest for a star to three extra points in a Game 7—can mean the world. And that’s something that not many teams are often able to even have a chance of getting with the 23rd pick.
|2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|1||Cavs||Otto Porter||16||Celtics||Mason Plumee|
|2||Magic||Nerlens Noel||17||Hawks||Lucas Nogueira|
|3||Wizards||Anthony Bennett||18||Hawks||Tony Mitchell|
|4||Bobcats||Ben McLemore||19||Cavs||Sergey Karasev|
|5||Suns||Victor Oladipo||20||Bulls||Gorgui Dieng|
|6||Pelicans||Trey Burke||21||Jazz||Ricky Ledo|
|7||Kings||CJ McCollum||22||Nets||Dennis Schroeder|
|8||Pistons||Michael Carter-Williams||23||Pacers||Reggie Bullock|