Skip to main content

5 Indiana Pacers draft targets with 7th overall pick, including Anthony Black

The 2023 NBA Draft Combine concluded last week, and with the playoffs just about set to be down to the NBA Finals, this all means we are one step closer to the NBA Draft. And for those who are unaware or might have forgotten, the Indiana Pacers are picking seventh overall. They will also have two more picks in the first and two in the second rounds. 

Now, the Blue and Gold are not expected to make a selection with each of their five draft picks. In fact, they will most likely either package some of the picks together to move up in the draft or acquire a veteran player who can help the team both in the short and long term. They have some players on the roster that could be enticing and valuable enough for another team to acquire. 

Last year, the Pacers struck gold with Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard in the NBA draft. This will be the expectation again for this year’s draft. And considering this year’s draft class is deeper than the previous one, it’s reasonable to expect some more success. This year the Pacers are drafting in an almost identical spot. However, their needs are much more clear.

Here are five players that the Indiana Pacers could draft with the seventh overall pick.

Anthony Black, Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament West Regional-Arkansas vs UCONN
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
  • 6-foot-7, 185 pounds

Anthony Black is a giant point guard, which at first doesn’t sound like he’d be a good fit for the Pacers. But when you consider Rick Carlisle loves having two point guards in the starting lineup this pick starts to make a little more sense. Also, this would give the Pacers more lineup creativity and flexibility. He is drawing comparisons to Josh Giddey from Oklahoma City. 

He will need to add some strength and muscle to be better able to handle NBA players. He’ll also need to improve his shooting, which includes his range as well. There are clear times when he is careless with the ball, leading to turnovers. There could be some concern about pairing Black with Tyrese Haliburton, as Black can be, at times, unselfish. 

Regardless, Black most likely won’t ever be a volume three-point shooter, however, he could become a reliable one. His playmaking, especially his passing, could really make this offense even more lethal. He is a solid defender and as previously stated, can offer position flexibility. Black is also adept at getting to the free-throw line. Having a playmaking point guard and a playmaking point forward could possibly unlock some more offensive firepower.

Related: NBA Power Rankings: Denver Nuggets rise to top spot for first time in ’22-’23

Cam Whitmore, Villanova

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament First Round - Villanova vs Georgetown
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
  • 6-foot-7, 234 pounds

Cam Whitmore might very well be the next immediate impact wing player to come out of Villanova. Previously, there was Mikal Bridges, Saddiq Bey, and Eric Paschall. Whitmore already comes with an NBA-ready body. Now it will be more about getting his game more NBA-ready.

The biggest knock about him is that he lacks playmaking skills. He won’t ever be confused for Haliburton, to say the least. His shooting can be a bit too streaky, and his free-throw shooting needs improvement. While his defense is good, at times he can be undisciplined.

Now, all of these knocks can be fixed with NBA coaching. Whitmore is a good scorer off the dribble, in fact, he excels scoring on off-ball motion plays. He is a very good athlete (drawing comparisons to Jerry Stackhouse), and his playmaking can improve with more NBA experience. As previously stated, he is a good defender who can rack up steals and blocks.

Related: 7 players the Indiana Pacers could shop to improve the roster this summer

Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite

Basketball: Overtime Elite-Cold Hearts at City Reapers
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
  • 6-foot-7, 190 pounds

Ausar Thompson is a twin to Amen, who is also expected to go high in the draft. Now, his brother is seen to have not as high of a ceiling in comparison to Ausar. However, Amen is a better passer. It will be interesting to see which of the twins hears their name called first on draft night. 

Thompson is fairly raw compared to some of the other names on this list. He is a very good athlete who needs to work on his shooting. His form isn’t terrible, but it needs to be improved, and that includes his free throw shooting too. But good coaches will improve his technique. He’s a young player who plays wild on offense and is undisciplined on defense. Again, NBA coaching can fix this, but how much room there is for growth will help determine his greatness.

As previously stated, he is a very good athlete, and what NBA coaches can mold and get out of him could be greatness. He has a good motor and is a solid defender who can get steals and blocks. Thompson also happens to be a good playmaker and rebounder. He can pair well next to Haliburton as Thompson can score both off the dribble and off the ball. He’s drawing comparisons to Jason Richardson and Terrence Ross.

Related: NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2023 Finals champion

Jarace Walker, Houston University

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional-Miami (FL) vs Houston
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • 6-foot-8, 235 pounds

Jarace Walker is the name that Pacers fans have been hearing about since last year’s college season was underway. Subsequently, he’s the name that the fan base has been talking about. He also happens to be, at least on paper, the ideal fit for the Blue and Gold’s biggest need. However, he can also be the ideal fit for a few teams that draft ahead of Indiana.

And then there are, of course, the areas of his game that need work. Most glaringly is shooting, which does include his free throw shooting and range. There is also the question of how much offense there is in him. How much scoring or at least consistent scoring a team can get out of Walker will impact how high he goes in the draft. At Houston, he wasn’t asked to do a lot of scoring. His defense was and is his calling card, but even then, he has lapses at times.

Now, he is a good scorer off the dribble, and he can post up smaller defenders. Also, he’s a very good athlete, a solid defender who is capable of switching and playing on the wing for a stretch. Walker is also a good rebounder, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that his career reputation is one of being a good rebounder and defender. Or he could live up to the billing of some players he’s being compared to, Paul Millsap and John Collins.

Related: Full 2023 NBA Draft order with team-by-team selections

Taylor Hendricks, UCF

NCAA Basketball: American Athletic Conference Tournament Quarterfinals - Memphis vs Central Florida
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • 6-foot-9, 213 pounds

Taylor Hendricks is a name that has been fast rising up mock drafts. He is another player that is also an ideal fit for the Pacers. Or any team that needs a big, versatile wing who can shoot from the outside. A difference between Hendricks and Walker is that Hendricks’ offense is much more versatile and tangible than Walker’s. There is upside with both of these players, but there might just be more upside with Hendricks. And that leads to the possibility of someone ahead of the Pacers calling his name.

Now, there’s no secret that for his size, he is very skinny and will absolutely need to add some size and strength. There is also the question of what he showed in college. Can he do it against tougher competition? He plays the game in a calm, almost lackadaisical way, which sometimes leads to or appears to be him being too passive on offense. He does not have an explosive first step and struggles to guard quicker players.

At the NBA level, coaches will teach him how to better utilize his length to help combat guarding quicker players. He is a good shooter, especially from deep, and he’s shown that he can score in all four ways; on the post, off the dribble, mid-range, and off-ball. Hendricks is a good athlete and although we would like to see him rebound a bit better, especially for his size. He’s already shown to be a good on-ball defender and a good shot blocker. If developed correctly, he could be a very good NBA player. He’s already drawing comparisons to Antawn Jamison and Jerami Grant. 

Related: NBA mock draft 2023: Projecting all 58 picks