The Blue Route Mock Draft: Pick #18 – Indiana Pacers

With the 18th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers select…

Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to select 24th pick in the draft. The NBA draft often sees movement, trades and drama, so to prepare you for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

2019 NBA Mock Draft Results
  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
  2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
  3. New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
  4. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarrett Culver
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Hunter
  6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White
  7. Chicago Bulls – Cam Reddish
  8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya
  9. Washington Wizards – Bol Bol 
  10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes 
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  12. Charlotte Hornets – Darius Garland
  13. Miami Heat – PJ Washington
  14. Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke
  15. Detroit Pistons – Rui Hachimura
  16. Orlando Magic – Goga Bitazde
  17. Atlanta Hawks – Nassir Little

Current State of the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers are in a decent spot heading into the offseason with regards to their salary situation, only strapped to $58,580,379 in total money owed. Their highest paid players are Victor Oladipo ($21,000,000) and Myles Turner ($18,000,000), while nobody else is under contract for $10 million or more in the 2019-20 season.

Along with their cornerstones mentioned above, the Pacers rotation is filled out by Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, TJ Leaf, and Aaron Holiday. Monta Ellis, Edmond Sumner, and Alize Johnson are also on the books for next year as well.

Indiana finished the 2018-19 season as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, impressively staying afloat after the devastating Victor Oladipo injury. It felt like most fans and media counted Indiana out, and although they got knocked out in the first round by the Boston Celtics, they had nothing to be ashamed of, finishing 48-34.

Looking ahead into 2019 Free Agency

The Indiana Pacers have the money to make a huge splash in free agency, however it’ll be interesting to see if any free agents will gravitate to the idea of playing in Indiana, while there are other big-market teams out there looking to spend big money.

The Pacers have some solid pieces expiring and entering free agency such as Wesley Matthews, Bojan Bogdanovic, Corey Joseph, and Thaddeus Young. They could easily re-gather the troops and run it back, but there’s always the possibility of a few big signings, completely shaking up the Eastern Conference.

With Oladipo and Turner as solidified starters and Sabonis as a potential starter, I could see the Pacers targeting a wing in free agency such as Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, or Harrison Barnes. They may also sign a big man to complement Turner such as Nikola Vucevic, Demarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, or Brook Lopez. Of the two, I think it’d be more likely to see them sign a high-profile wing. Even more likely than that, I could see Indiana running it back (as mentioned above).

The Selection – Bruno Fernando

Like I just said, maybe the Pacers will look to add a big man to go along with Myles Turner. Bruno Fernando is a vicious athlete and an awesome prospect for a team like Indiana, looking to compete in 2019 and beyond. According to NBADraft.net, Fernando’s NBA comparisons are Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka. If he can become that type of player, watch out for the Pacers.

Fernando played two years at the University of Maryland, tallying 30 minutes a game in his sophomore season with the Terrapins. He averaged 13.6 points per game on 60.7 percent from the field to go along with 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 blocks. The most impressive facets of Fernando’s game are his strength, athleticism, his ability to rebound, and the ease with which he scores the basketball.

Rookie Prediction

As the Pacers’ roster is currently constructed, one would assume that Fernando would come off the bench, while Turner and Sabonis start at the four and five, respectively or interchangeably. It seems like the Pacers like the spark that Sabonis provides off the bench, so that’s the only reason I can imagine a world where Fernando starts.

There’s a solid chance that Thaddeus Young played his final game with the Indiana Pacers. And while it’d be nice for Fernando to learn from the veteran forward, Bruno would fill his shoes in the rotation, doing the dirty work and throwing his muscle around in the paint.

Projected Stats, Per Game: 19.6 minutes, 8.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks. When I see him play, I see a lot of Montrezl Harrell and Thomas Bryant. He might have a higher upside than those two, but his motor will be the reason he eats up stats like Pacman.

In this scenario, where he plays 19.6 minutes per game, I am predicting that he backs up Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis as the depth four/five off the bench. I, personally, can’t wait to watch him play in the 2019-20 NBA season.