Indiana Pacers: 2017 NBA Draft grades

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; T.J. Leaf (UCLA) is introduced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number eighteen overall pick to the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What grades do Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers get for all three picks that they made in the 2017 NBA Draft?

Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers went into the 2017 NBA Draft with rumors flying about a potential Paul George trade. While they didn’t end up trading their franchise player, the Pacers went out and drafted three players that they feel will help them move into the re-tooling process that is sure to come.

George is still expected to be traded, but Pritchard didn’t feel that a good enough deal presented itself during the draft. When George is traded, Indiana will finally be able to focus on building around young big man Myles Turner.

The Pacers have a tough decision to make in the near future. Do they go into full rebuilding mode after trading George, or do they try to keep their veterans and bring in another piece or two?

After seeing their three draft picks, the Pacers appear to be preparing to build around Turner. Bringing in two UCLA big men was a bit of a surprise, but both players will be able to complement Turner well.

All of that being said, what grades do the Indiana Pacers get for each of their three picks in the 2017 NBA Draft?

Feb 23, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins guard T.J. Leaf (22) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells-Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 — T.J. Leaf

Drafting UCLA’s T.J. Leaf at No. 18 overall was not a very popular pick among Pacers’ fans. Immediately following the pick, there was a lot of frustration shared on social media. Leaf is not the most athletic player in the draft and seeing players like O.G. Anunoby and Harry Giles on the board made fans a bit disgruntled.

Leaf may not be a flashy pick, but head coach Nate McMillan strongly believes that he will fit well alongside Myles Turner. McMillan spoke about Leaf’s ability to stretch the floor in his post-draft press conference.

Last season at UCLA, Leaf ended up averaging 16.3 points per game to go along with 8.2 rebounds. He shot 61.7 percent from the field overall and knocked down 46.6 percent of his three-point attempts.

Even though it is a small sample size, Leaf does appear to have a well-rounded offensive game. Indiana will be able to play five players with the ability to shoot three-pointers, which will help them create favorable matchups.

Leaf may not be a popular pick right now, but he certainly possesses the potential to change Pacers fans’ minds.

Grade: B+

Feb 23, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Ike Anigbogu (13) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells-Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 47 – Ike Anigbogu

One of the most intriguing picks of the entire draft was the Pacers selecting Ike Anigbogu with the No. 47 overall pick. Anigbogu fell in the draft due to health concerns surrounding his knee, but he has been adamant that he is fine and will be able to produce at the NBA level.

Anigbogu did not get consistent playing time at UCLA last season, but ended the year with averages of 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in just 13 minute per contest.

If Anigbogu is able to get back to full health, the Pacers are getting an athletic freak who is capable of becoming an elite rim protector. Coming off the bench behind Turner, Anigbogu would be a big help to a bench defense that was downright pitiful last season.

At just 18 years of age, Anigbogu has plenty of time to get things figured out. He is a very raw talent, but the Pacers believe that they can develop him into an impact player in the future. Anigbogu likely won’t have a role this season, but a couple years down the round he could end up being a steal.

Grade: B

Dec 7, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Edmond Sumner (4) during the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes defeated the Musketeers 68-66. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

No. 52 — Edmond Sumner

Finally, the Indiana Pacers bought the No. 52 overall pick from the New Orleans Pelicans in order to select Xavier guard Edmond Sumner. At 6’6″, Sumner is projected to play point guard in the NBA. That alone makes him an intriguing pick for the Pacers.

Indiana could have a gaping hole at the backup point guard position, as Aaron Brooks is set to hit free agency. Joseph Young has not shown enough to the Pacers to prove that he is capable of playing key minutes, which led to the selection of Sumner.

Last season at Xavier, Sumner averaged 14.3 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. He shot 47.9 percent from the floor and cashed in on just 27.3 percent of his three-point attempts.

Sumner, like Anigbogu, is a raw talent, but the Pacers have been good at developing young players in recent history. More than likely, Sumner will be a third-string point guard and could end up playing for the Pacers’ D-League in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the majority of the season.

That being said, he is an intriguing prospect that will be given every opportunity to earn a role on the roster and is well worth the cash considerations that the Pacers paid for his draft rights.

Grade: B-

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