Pacers NBA Draft scouting reports v5.0
In any other draft, Justin Jackson would probably be a lottery pick. In this one, however, the multi-talented North Carolina wing could well be on the board when the Pacers select at No. 18 next Thursday night.
Jackson was one of six players to work out at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Thursday and clearly is on Indiana’s radar as a potential first-round pick. The leading scorer (18.3) on North Carolina’s national championship team, he showed excellent shooting ability (37 percent from 3-point range), solid ball skills and aggressive defense for the Tar Heels. A possible issue for the Pacers could be his personality; Jackson is something of an introvert, and the Indiana locker room already is overloaded with those.
Another first-round prospect in the group was Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell, a 6-3 combo guard who’s been a late riser on many draft boards because of his combination of strength, 3-point shooting and aggressive defense.
The Pacers also worked out a couple of centers, Luke Fischer of Marquette and Luke Kornet of Vanderbilt, as well as wings Damyean Dotson of Houston and Jaron Blossomgame of Clemson. Blossomgame and Dotson are solid second-round prospects.
Here’s a brief look at the 47 players the Pacers have worked out. Indiana holds the 18th and 47th picks overall in the draft, which will take place next Thursday night.
PACERS DRAFT WORKOUT SCOUTING REPORTS
POTENTIAL FIRST-ROUND PICKS
>> BAM ADEBAYO (6-9, 243, Kentucky, Fr.): His physique belies his age. This is a 19-year-old already built for the NBA, with elite athleticism. A highly productive offensive rebounder who runs well and finishes nicely on the pick-and-roll, he’s still learning the nuances of the inside game at both ends. While he lacks much in the way of a low-post game, he dunks everything around the rim. Needs to work on his free throw shooting (.653) but fits the profile of the type of player the Pacers would like to have complementing Myles Turner.
>> DWAYNE BACON (6-6, 220, Florida State, Soph.): An explosive athlete and excellent finisher with a solid NBA-ready frame, Bacon averaged 17.2 points for the Seminoles but shot just .333 from the 3-point line. A streaky shooter who’ll need to work on developing more consistency from the perimeter, Bacon also has some holes in his defensive fundamentals. He projects as a bridge pick (late first or early second round).
>> JORDAN BELL (6-9, 225, Oregon, Jr.): A versatile, athletic and energetic big man who stood out at the Combine. A multi-position defender with a nose for protecting the rim, Bell seems well-suited for smaller lineups. Though limited offensively, he doesn’t need the ball to contribute and rarely takes shots he can’t make (.636 last season). He has a lot of the traits the Pacers are looking for but could be a reach in the first round.
>> JAWUN EVANS (6-0, 185, Oklahoma St., Soph.): Though slightly undersized for an NBA point guard, seems to play bigger, in part because of long arms. Averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals with a .453/.376/.806 shooting line. Though a modest athlete, is a tough-minded player who can create and distribute, with a ton of pick-and-roll experience. Tends to struggle to finish at the rim but does draw a lot of fouls. A low-volume 3-point shooter, he’ll need to prove to teams he can hit that shot consistently to lock himself into a solid late-first-round prospect.
>> TERRANCE FERGUSON (6-7, 185, Australia): Instead of playing collegiately in the U.S., the Dallas high school product opted to play professionally in Australia for a couple of years. A solid spot-up shooter with decent athleticism, Ferguson could be a difficult prospect to peg because of the limited body of work overseas. His production didn’t match his skill set and he tended toward lapses of passivity, but there’s no question he has the tools to be a prototype wing in the NBA.
>> WESLEY IWUNDU (6-7, 210, Kansas State, Sr.) : Another four-year collegian, Iwundu has the look of a solid wing defender. An above average athlete, Iwundu has worked to improve his 3-point shooting (.376 last season) but that is hardly a strength. He is a threat off the dribble and in transition but unless he can become a consistent long-range shooter, his value will be limited. He could sneak into the first round with impressive workouts.
>> JUSTIN JACKSON (6-8, 195, North Carolina, Jr.): This nice guy finished first, winning the national championship with the Tar Heels, averaging 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists with a .443/.370/.748 shooting line for the season. A very skilled scorer with an excellent mid-range game and improving 3-pointer, he also commits to the defensive end and is an unselfish playmaker. He’s a little lean, a little streaky with his shot and doesn’t have elite athleticism but is a smart player used to winning. One potential intangible that could work against him with the Pacers is his laid-back, introverted personality.
>> LUKE KENNARD (6-5, 195, Duke, Soph.): A common projection for the Pacers in mock drafts because of his shooting ability, Kennard averaged 19.5 points and shot .438 from the arc as a sophomore while also playing a glue-guy role for the Blue Devils, helping keep the team from fragmenting early in the season. He knows how to play without the ball and has good instincts, but average (at best) athleticism will be exposed defensively.
>> T.J. LEAF (6-10, 225, UCLA, Fr.): Plays like the son of a coach, which he is. Plays like an international big man, which he is, sort of. Born in Israel while his father was playing professionally, Leaf has developed into a solid all-around offensive player with decent ball skills and the ability to stretch the floor. He averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks as a freshman, shooting .622 overall and .466 from the arc, although he hit just .679 from the line. Like most young big men, he needs to get stronger and polish his defensive fundamentals, but his offensive potential could push him into the late lottery selections.
>> DONOVAN MITCHELL (6-3, 210, Louisville, Soph.): For a guy who entered college as a baseball shortstop before fracturing his wrist and changing sports, Mitchell has been a fast-riser. Averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals with a .463/.354/.806 shooting line last season. Uses his strong build to play bigger than 6-3 but scouts wonder whether he’s an ideal combo guard, or just another tweener. He can shoot it but is streaky and played a gambling defensive style in college that may not translate well at the NBA level.
>> JOHNATHAN MOTLEY (6-9, 232, Baylor, Jr.): Long, lean, athletic and versatile power forward who runs well, has a respectable low-post game and is solid from mid-range, although he lacks the 3-point threat. Has a 7-4 wingspan and a 9-3 standing reach, both of which suggest he should become a better shot blocker. Played a zone defense in college so tough to project there, but has all the necessary measurables, and also showed improved passing ability, particularly out of post double-teams, last season.
>> IVAN RABB (6-10, 220, Cal, Soph.): Doesn’t look particularly fluid, with a herky-jerky style and a shot that will need much work, but was very productive, averaging 14 points and 10.5 rebounds for the Golden Bears. Has the skills of a more traditional low-post center but the build of a power forward so could be a tweener, even by today’s evolving standards. He definitely is not a floor-spacer.
>> CALEB SWANIGAN (6-8, 257, Purdue, Soph.): Swanigan was a prolific player last season (18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, .527 overall, .447 from the arc), but is more of an old-school power forward who could get caught in the backwash of the new wave of stretch fours. Although he has improved his jump shot, the greater challenge will be defense, as he isn’t quite big enough to bang with NBA bigs, and lacks the quickness to close out on the perimeter. Unless a team late in the first round becomes enamored, he’ll likely slip into the second round.
>> SINDARIUS THORNWELL (6-5, 210, South Carolina, Sr.): The SEC player of the year made his name in the Gamecocks’ improbable run to the Final Four. A big, strong, long-armed shooting guard who plays with toughness, aggression and passion, Thornwell averaged 21.4 points and 7.1 rebounds last season, but he isn’t considered to be an explosive athlete and lacks the quickness to succeed in isolation situations. Because of those factors and his age (22), he’s seen as a largely finished product headed for a career as a role-player.
POTENTIAL SECOND-ROUND PICKS
>> BRYCE ALFORD (6-3, 186, UCLA, Sr.): Son of Steve is a borderline draft prospect because of his tweener status. Though he played point guard for a couple of years, he struggled with consistency but with Lonzo Ball’s arrival last season Alford moved to shooting guard and averaged 15.5 points on 43 percent shooting from the arc. Could stick somewhere as a combo guard off the bench.
>> IKE ANIGBOGU (6-9, 252, UCLA, Fr.): An intriguing young big man, a real physical specimen with unusual athleticism and energy. In reserve role, showed the ability to protect the rim and defend the post. Offensive skills are limited but he’s a runner-dunker in transition. Definitely not a stretch-big prospect, his skills would be a nice complement to Myles Turner, provided he’s available in the second round.
>> JABARI BIRD (6-6, 200, California, Sr): A highly-touted recruit out of high school, he never evolved into an elite player, partly due to injuries. He averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 rebounds last season, with a .440/.365/.764 shooting line. Not an elite athlete, he showed consistent problems with shot selection and basic decision-making, which is why he may go undrafted.
>> ANTONIO BLAKENEY (6-4, 177, LSU, Soph.): After a huge high school career that included winning Florida’s Mr. Basketball award and teaming with Ben Simmons on the AAU circuit, Blakeney’s college career basically fizzled. He averaged 17.2 points last season but proved a streaky shooter and disinterested defender. There are physical tools there, but he lacks length and strength and will have to show better offensive efficiency to stick in the NBA.
>> JARON BLOSSOMGAME (6-8, 220, Clemson, Sr.): College career sidetracked early by complications from a compound fracture of his left leg in high school, but came on strong, averaging 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, shooting .499/.255/.714 last season. That dip in 3-point percentage is a big concern, making the .446 mark of his junior year look like a pure aberration. He was under 30 percent the other three seasons. He has athleticism and explosion, but doesn’t have much in the way of ball skills and he turns 24 before the season begins, making him an old man by draft standards.
>> TREVON BLUIETT (6-6, 208, Xavier, Jr.): Opted to return to Xavier for his senior season after working out for Pacers.
>> DILLON BROOKS (6-6, 220, Oregon, Jr.): Versatility was a major strength in college, where he was able to play both forward spots, but he doesn’t have the size for the four-spot in the NBA -- he’d even be small for a stretch-four. A fierce competitor, Brooks occasionally let that competitive fire burn a little too hot. He’s strong and aggressive but not an elite athlete who could be a ‘tweener. He averaged 16.1 points and shot .401 from the arc but pulled just 3.2 rebounds. He’s a mid-to-late second-round prospect.
>> TROY CAUPAIN (6-4, 200, Cincinnati, Sr.): Because of his size and experience playing some point in college, he has drawn some second-round interest. A relatively well-rounded player and eager defender, Caupain averaged 10.5 points and 4.4 assists as a senior, shooting .453/.325/.687. He could work out as a backup combo guard, but his draft prospects are marginal.
>> DAMYEAN DOTSON (6-5, 205, Houston, Sr.): After being booted from Oregon for alleged involvement in a sexual assault case (no charges were filed), rehabbed his career with Kelvin Sampson in Houston, averaging 17.4 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting an impressive .505/.443/.830 last season. The MVP in Portsmouth, Dotson’s shooting ability, size and length have pushed him into the second-round picture, although there are questions about his ball skills, ability to finish around the rim and create his own shot.
>> VINCENT EDWARDS (6-8, 225, Purdue, Jr.): Opted to return to Purdue for his senior season after working out for Pacers.
>> DYLAN ENNIS (6-2, 195, Oregon, Sr.): A solid all-around contributor at Oregon who averaged 10.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season with a modest .429/.358/.737 shooting line. One of those college players who’s pretty good at a lot of things but lacks that one dynamic trait to cement himself as a solid NBA prospect, particularly given his status as a ‘tweener.
>> LUKE FISCHER (6-11, 245, Marquette, Sr.): Definitely has NBA size and strength and had solid numbers (10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks in 24 minutes) last season, but limited shooting range and a modest overall skill set mitigate his prospects.
>> ISAAC HAMILTON (6-4, 194, UCLA, Sr.): A solid contributor to the nation’s most prolific offense, Hamilton showed solid all-around skills while averaging 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists while posting a .453/.366/.825 shooting line last season. He has played both guard spots, which could help him find a niche as a combo guard.
>> JOSH HART (6-5, 204, Villanova, Sr.): Another Naismith finalist, Hart was one of the most accomplished players in college basketball, averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season and never shot below 50 percent in a season during his career, a remarkable accomplishment for a guard. As polished as Hart is, he is viewed as a largely finished product who could fill a role right away, but with modest upside, hence his widespread projections as a second-round pick.
>> ZAK IRVIN (6-6, 215, Michigan, Sr.): Former Indiana Mr. Basketball for Hamilton Southeastern was a stalwart for the Wolverines, averaging 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists with a .516/.344/.671 shooting line as a senior. Will need to show NBA scouts he can make the 3-point shot consistently but otherwise has a well-rounded skill set.
>> AMILE JEFFERSON (6-9, 210, Duke, Sr.): A small forward who plays more like a power forward in that he’s much better inside than out, Jefferson was an efficient scorer and unselfish glue player for the Blue Devils, averaging 10.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last year. He never attempted a 3-pointer in college, preferring to do his work around the rim. A hard-worker who’s unselfish -- perhaps to a fault -- he’ll need to show a more aggressive streak to find an NBA home.
>> PETER JOK (6-6, 205, Iowa, Sr.): The Big Ten’s leading scorer (19.9), the long and lean wing showed a streaky 3-point shot while averaging 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Not a strong finisher, Jok also struggles to create off the dribble, relying on his jump shot. Though he hit .380 from the arc, his overall percentage of .426 left much to be desired, but he is a great free throw shooter (.911). He may lack the quickness to defend NBA wings, but his shooting ability could get him into the second round.
>> MOSES KINGSLEY (6-10, 230, Arkansas, Sr.): Interesting big man with elite athleticism and explosiveness and an NBA-ready physique, but is still very raw because he didn’t start playing until his sophomore year of high school, when he moved to the U.S. from Nigeria. A glass-eater on both ends, he averaged 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots last year. Offensive repertoire is limited by a shot that needs work. Still raw, very much a late-bloomer and those reasons, combined with his athletic talent, make him an upside pick despite his relatively advanced age (22).
>> LUKE KORNET (7-1, 250, Vanderbilt, Sr.): Could make himself draftable if he shows he can hit the 3-pointer more consistently after posting a .327 mark last season. Has the look of a stretch five, but needs to polish the shot to give himself a chance.
>> ZACH LEDAY (6-7, 235, Va. Tech, Sr.): Pushed himself onto the draft radar with a standout performance in Portsmouth after averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds as a senior, shooting .541 overall but just .275 from the arc. Plays with high energy but struggles against quicker small forwards defensively, he’s a tough player who prefers to do his work inside but may lack the size and explosiveness to succeed at the NBA level.
>> NAZ MITROU-LONG (6-4, 203, Iowa St., Sr.): A prolific 3-point shooter, the native Canadian averaged 7.3 attempts as a redshirt senior, converting 38.4 percent. Averaged 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists his final season. Showed a knack for hitting clutch shots throughout his career, but could struggle to get open shots against more athletic defenders.
>> BEN MOORE (6-7, 205, SMU, Sr.): One of the key figures in SMU’s rise to national relevance, Moore was an undersized power forward who averaged 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds, with a reputation as a solid defender. He most certainly was not a 3-point shooter, going 1-of-5 for his career, and without strong workouts may go undrafted.
>> MONTE MORRIS (6-3, 175, Iowa State, Sr.): If you value ball-protection above creativity, this is your go. Morris committed just 165 turnovers in 140 college games and posted a 5.16 assist:turnover ratio. A four-year player who averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds last season, Morris has the look of a solid backup point guard who won’t hurt you, but will have a limited capacity to help. He’s a mid-to-late second-round projection.
>> SEMI OJELEYE (6-6, 240, SMU, Jr.): After transferring from Duke, he had a big year, averaging 19 points and 6.9 rebounds, shooting .487 overall and .424 from the arc. He has an NBA-ready physique and is a good shooter with range, but a ‘tweener needs to be a strong defender, and he hasn’t shown much of a propensity for that end of the floor. Look for him to go in the middle third of the second round.
>> LONDON PERRANTES (6-2, 197, Virginia, Sr.): Embodies Virginia basketball -- smart, tough, hard-nosed defender. A veteran leader and four-year starter, Perrantes averaged 12.7 points and 3.8 assists as a senior. He’s a modest athlete who has never dunked in a game, but very much a quarterback-on-the-floor type of point guard.
>> DAVON REED (6-5, 206, Miami, Sr.): Brought in for a second workout, so clearly he has something that intrigues the Pacers. Tough player with a strong reputation as a defender. Measured a 7-0 wingspan, which is exceptional. A career 40 percent shooter from the 3-point line, he averaged 14.9 points and 4.8 rebounds last season, shooting .433 overall and .397 from the arc. A late second-round prospect.
>> RASHAWN THOMAS (6-8, 230, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sr.): Slightly undersized power forward with 3-point range, Thomas claimed a bit of spotlight in the postseason leading the Islanders to the CIT title game, averaging 26 points and 11.4 rebounds in five tournament games. Big problem with turnovers was evident in the postseason, committing 19 after averaging 3.7 during the regular season.
>> TREVOR THOMPSON (7-0, 250, Ohio State, Jr.): Former Ben Davis standout was pursued by both IU and Purdue when he announced his intention to transfer from Virginia Tech but he chose the Buckeyes instead. Averaged 23 minutes, 10.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last season, shooting .571 overall and .720 from the line, leading the team in rebounds and blocks. His father is former major league journeyman Ryan Thompson.
>> DERRICK WALTON JR. (6-0, 185, Michigan, Sr.): A solid, well-rounded offensive player who averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting .456/.422/.876, Walton could shoot his way into the second round with strong workouts. An average athlete who had problems on defense, Walton has the look of a backup point guard.
>> PAUL WATSON JR. (6-7, 215, Fresno St., Sr.): Not the first guy named Paul from Fresno State to find his way onto the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Watson’s primary claim to fame is his dunking ability. One of eight seniors to participate in the college slam-dunk contest during the Final Four, Watson was an otherwise modest producer with averages of 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds and a shooting line of .414/.341/.679.
>> DERRICK WHITE (6-4, 191, Colorado, Sr.): A rare combination of an older prospect (he turns 23 in July) still growing as a player. Lightly recruited out of high school, he started out at UC-Colorado Springs but transferred to Colorado, where he had a big season (18.1 points, 4.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds). If he’s truly a late-bloomer, he could be a second-round steal as a combo guard.
>> NIGEL WILLIAMS-GOSS (6-3, 185, Gonzaga, Jr.): When it comes to intangibles, he’s loaded. A winner and a strong leadership presence, a tough-minded player who’s a true floor general, Williams-Goss averaged 16.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals in helping the Zags reach the NCAA title game. It’s the tangibles that hold him back. He is not a great athlete, lacks an explosive first step and though his shot is mechanically sound and improving but still needs work. A two-time academic all-America, there should be a place for a player of his caliber in the league, although probably not at the top of anyone’s depth chart.
>> MICHAEL YOUNG (6-9, 235, Pittsburgh, Sr.): A solid low-post scorer with decent range (19.6 points, .341 from the arc), Young is built for the NBA but needs to show a greater willingness and ability to defend the position. He could go undrafted.
(Photo of Justin Jackson by Getty Images)