The Indiana Pacers are in a unique position in the 2023 NBA draft. They have three first-round picks, one of which is in the lottery.
The Pacers finished the 2022-23 season with a 36-46 record, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year. They also acquired two additional first-round picks from the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat in separate trades.
The Pacers have a lot of options with their draft picks. They could use them to select young prospects who can help them rebuild their roster, or they could package them to trade for a star player who can elevate their team to contention. They could also split the difference and keep some picks while trading others.
Here is a mock draft of what the Pacers could do with their three first-round picks, based on the current draft order and projections from various sources.
Pick No. 8: Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
The Pacers have a glaring need at center, as Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis have not been able to coexist on the court. Turner is a defensive anchor and a floor spacer, but he is often injured and inconsistent.
Sabonis is an All-Star and a double-double machine, but he is not a rim protector or a three-point shooter. The Pacers need a center who can do both.
Jalen Duren could be that player. He is a 6-foot-10 freshman who dominated at Memphis, averaging 18.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.
He is a physical specimen who can overpower opponents in the paint, finish with authority and run the floor like a guard. He is also a solid defender who can protect the rim, switch on the perimeter and rebound at a high rate.
Duren is not a polished offensive player, as he lacks a reliable jump shot and a refined post game. He also needs to improve his free throw shooting and his passing.
However, he has tremendous upside and potential to be a dominant two-way center in the NBA. He could form a formidable frontcourt duo with Sabonis or replace Turner if the Pacers decide to trade him.
Pick No. 21: Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee
The Pacers have a solid backcourt duo in Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert, but they could use some depth and youth at the point guard position.
Brogdon is 30 years old and has struggled with injuries throughout his career. LeVert is 28 years old and has also dealt with health issues, including a kidney cancer scare last year.
Kennedy Chandler could be a valuable addition to the Pacers’ backcourt rotation. He is a 6-foot-1 freshman who impressed at Tennessee, averaging 14.8 points, 5.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
He is a speedy and shifty playmaker who can create for himself and others with his ball-handling and passing skills. He is also a capable shooter who can knock down threes off the dribble or catch-and-shoot situations.
Chandler is not a great defender, as he lacks size and strength to guard bigger guards. He also needs to cut down on his turnovers and improve his decision-making.
However, he has a high basketball IQ and a competitive spirit that make him an exciting prospect. He could learn from Brogdon and LeVert and provide some spark off the bench for the Pacers.
Pick No. 25: Bennedict Mathurin, SG/SF, Arizona
The Pacers have some decent wings on their roster, such as Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and Oshae Brissett, but they could use some more versatility and upside at that position.
Holiday is 33 years old and will be a free agent next summer. Lamb is 30 years old and has not been the same player since his ACL injury in 2020. Brissett is 23 years old and has shown some promise, but he is still unproven.
Bennedict Mathurin could be a steal for the Pacers at this spot. He is a 6-foot-7 sophomore who improved significantly at Arizona, averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
He is an athletic and smooth wing who can score from all three levels with his shooting, driving and finishing abilities. He is also a solid defender who can guard multiple positions with his length and quickness.
Final Thoughts: Pacers Have Three First-Round Picks in 2023 NBA Draft
The Indiana Pacers are in a favorable position heading into the 2023 NBA Draft with three first-round picks, including one in the lottery. This provides the team with multiple options to improve their roster and potentially become contenders again.
The Pacers have struggled in recent years, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. However, with their three first-round picks, they have the opportunity to acquire young talent, package them in trades, or a combination of both.
In this mock draft, the Pacers address their needs by selecting Jalen Duren, Kennedy Chandler, and Bennedict Mathurin. With the eighth pick, they choose Jalen Duren, a dominant center from Memphis.
Duren has the potential to become a two-way star in the NBA and could form a formidable frontcourt duo with All-Star Domantas Sabonis. Alternatively, Duren could replace Myles Turner, who has been inconsistent and injury-prone, if the Pacers decide to trade him.
With the 21st pick, the Pacers select Kennedy Chandler, a speedy and shifty playmaker from Tennessee. Chandler provides depth and youth to the backcourt and has the potential to learn from Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert.
Chandler’s passing skills and shooting abilities make him an exciting prospect, but he needs to improve his decision-making and defense.
Finally, with the 25th pick, the Pacers choose Bennedict Mathurin, a versatile wing from Arizona. Mathurin has shown significant improvement during his sophomore year, averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.
He can score from all three levels and is a solid defender who can guard multiple positions. Mathurin’s weaknesses are his playmaking and ball-handling skills, which he needs to develop further.
Overall, the Pacers have a solid draft plan with these three picks, addressing their needs at center, point guard, and wing positions.
They have the potential to acquire young talent and rebuild their roster, or they could use their draft capital to trade for a star player who can help them become contenders again. The future looks bright for the Pacers with their three first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft.