Here’s Who Pacers Can Look to in Next Month’s Draft to Mend Last Season’s Defensive Woes

Rick Carlisle frustrated with Pacers lack of Defense
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the biggest team need for the Indiana Pacers is that they need someone who can play defense.

Fans spent last season celebrating our new, prolific offense that rarely gave us a dull moment, only to lament on how easily the other team could go down the other end of the floor and cancel out whatever exciting basket just brought the house down in Gainbridge. I can’t count how many times the air was sucked out of Gainbridge Fieldhouse by our lackluster defense.

So the problem is clear. We don’t have a defense that is good enough to consistently win us games. What is less clear, however, is the solution.

The Pacers first opportunity to find a solution lies with next month’s draft. In another edition of typical Pacers lack of luck they became the first team, since the odds were changed, to be in the seventh spot in the lottery and not move up to a higher pick. But no matter; we move forward.

Will the Pacers Make a Move up the Draft Board?

Now there is a lot of talk of the Pacers leveraging their three first-round picks to move up in the draft and take the wing out of Alabama, Brandon Miller. But that is a lot of speculation so I am just going to assume that the Pacers are going to stay put at pick seven.

Brandon Miller Highlights

At pick seven there is one hope that the Pacers can cling to. That hope being Jarace Walker, power forward out of Houston, falls to them. Not only does Jarace fit a positional need for the Pacers, but a playstyle need as well. The Pacers are incredibly thin at the power forward position so drafting an NBA-ready power forward that can start on the season opener solves that issue.

Jarace Walker Highlights

Why Jarace Walker Makes Sense

More importantly, however, is what Jarace does for the Pacers’ defensive woes. Watching tape on him from his time in Houston one thing becomes clear. Walker’s propensity for defense is his biggest strength and exactly what the Pacers need.

His interior defense is lockdown, and he isn’t afraid of stepping out on the perimeter to close down the ball handler, a necessity for everyone on the floor in today’s NBA. Jarace Walker has great size at 6’8” and 240 lbs. That’s good size for an NBA power forward let alone a freshman in college.

If Walker is taken before the Pacers are on the clock, then the direction the Pacers should go becomes much more ambiguous. But if Kevin Pritchard has taught us anything during his time as GM it’s that we just need to trust him. He’s got this.

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