3 best options for Pacers at No. 13 in 2021 NBA Draft
The Indiana Pacers have the 13th pick in the NBA Draft and history reveals those outside the top 10 are where the dark horses lie. In recent memory, the likes of Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Tyler Herro, and Zach LaVine were picked 13th overall. And of course, who could forget Kobe Bryant, the greatest 13th pick of all time (a close second is Karl Malone).
But outside this interesting trivia, the Pacers are an unusual case. They failed to make the NB Playoffs yet a look at their roster reveals a solid core with experienced players. The controversy involving former coach Nate Bjorkgren might have affected their performance. But now that’s over, it’s time for the organization to look at the best available options for their 13th pick.
Alperen Sengun – Center
The 6-foot-10 center from Turkey may be one of the steals of the NBA Draft. Last season in the Turkish League, the 18-year-old averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks in 28 minutes per game for Besiktas. He shot 65 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
Sengun gets his points mostly in the paint. He’s very comfortable in the post as he does not shy away from showing off his incredible footwork, sometimes even revealing glimpses of Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s also shown potential in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations which is a strong suit in today’s game. Sengun looks slow and immobile at first. But like most modern-day centers today, he has very good handles and can easily drive to the hoop from the three-point line or even run the break. This part of his game has received comparisons with Domantas Sabonis, a would-be teammate of his if the Pacers draft him.
Corey Kispert – Shooting Guard
When a prospect has received comparisons with Klay Thompson (he even admits to modeling his game after the Golden State Warriors star), then maybe you should seriously consider drafting him. The 6-foot-7 Gonzaga sharpshooter shot 52.9 percent from the field and 44 percent from the three-point line last season. He averaged 18.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.
Analysts say he’s the deadliest shooter in the draft class. So much so that teams like the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs have vested interest in picking him up. Other reports reveal that the Los Angeles Lakers who have the 22nd pick might even look to move up just to acquire Kispert.
The Pacers need a player like Kispert. Their core group in Sabonis, Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, and Myles Turner do most of their damage in the paint. Kispert is the ultimate complementary player.
Keon Johnson – Shooting Guard
The 6-foot-4 Tenessee standout had a maximum vertical leap of 48 inches—the new NBA Draft Combine record. He also had a 41 1/2-inch standing vertical and also recorded the third-fastest sprint time. This makes him one of the most athletic prospects in his class. In his lone year in college, he averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
These numbers do not reveal how effective Johnson can be on both ends of the floor. His quickness makes him a very capable defender. He has no problems staying in front of his man. His leaping ability and timing (which could be polished over time) make him a legitimate interior defender, too.
His offensive package (or lack of it) has understandably been the cause of concern for most teams. However, these things can be developed later on, as in the case of most prospects. Johnson’s athletic gifts, however, are already there inside of him.