After a season that surprised many, the Pacers took the next step forward into going further by selecting two players in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. The Pacers selected PG Aaron Holiday from UCLA with the 23rd overall pick, and then PF Alize Johnson from Missouri State with the 50th overall pick.
PG Aaron Holiday, UCLA:
The Pacers got their point guard of the future with Aaron Holiday in the first round. Holiday is an extremely talented guard from UCLA who really broke out and flashed potential in his Junior year, last season. As one of the hidden gems in the draft, Holiday didn’t disappoint averaging 20.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game as a Bruin last season. Last year was his breakout year, blossoming without being in Lonzo Ball’s shadow in Steve Alford’s offense. It seems as if the Pacers made the right choice here looking at the future needs.
Digging further into the numbers and stats, Holiday scores marvelously off the ball and improved as a playmaker and finisher off the dribble. He plays with great confidence with disruptive moments to help guide his teammates into a winning group. Not to mention his brothers are established NBA players, Jrue and Justin Holiday. We’ll say it again, this pick is perfect for Indiana as Holiday is a low-risk selection.
PF Alize Johnson, Missouri State:
With the departure of Thaddeus Young likely, and more minutes for T.J. Leaf, the Pacers beefed up their power forward position by selecting Alize Johnson in the second round. As a senior last year, Johnson quickly established himself as an energizing force on the floor, much like Young right now. He can do incredible things on offense as a very good scorer for his size. Johnson at 6’9″ averaged 15.0 points on 43.0% shooting from the field last year for the Bears in 33 starts. His style of play is almost incredibly different from the rest as a very productive forward.
We haven’t even mentioned Johnson’s rebounding numbers yet, which are stronger than most power forwards. Johnson averaged a double-double in both his years at D-1, with strong results off the backboard. He averaged 11.6 rebounds in 2017-18, and 10.6 in 2016-17 as Johnson became a workhorse at Missouri State. If you want to compare him to Myles Turner at Texas, Turner averaged just 6.5 per game there. Imagine what Johnson can become in Nate McMillan’s coaching plan. Just like his new teammate Aaron Holiday, Alize Johnson could be another solid pick for Kevin Pritchard.
It’s hard to complain about this draft class for the Pacers, as Kevin Pritchard knocked it out of the park. The Pacers are building their future around Victor Oladipo and it starts with the grassroots effort in the draft. Pritchard is doing just that with high-potential players.