NBA Draft 2017: Pacers take T.J. Leaf at No. 18

The Indiana Pacers select former UCLA Bruins power forward T.J. Leaf with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The Indiana Pacers used their first round pick at No. 18 in the 2017 NBA Draft on former UCLA Bruins power forward T.J. Leaf. In one year with the Bruins, Leaf helped lead his team to a 30-win season and a trip to the Sweet 16 in Memphis.

UCLA might have fallen to the Kentucky Wildcats at FedEx Forum in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, but it was a great season for the Bruins nonetheless. Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29.9 minutes per game under UCLA head coach Steve Alford.

Indiana is usually playoff bound in the Eastern Conference. It’s been over 30 years since the Pacers had a top-10 pick in an NBA Draft. New general manager Kevin Pritchard has had his work cut out for him field Paul George trade rumors, as well as getting ready for his first draft in charge.

Pritchard seems to have found a highly productive one-and-done player out of UCLA in Leaf. He was an incredibly accurate shooter for the Bruins, as he made 61.7 percent of his field goals and 46.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. In short, Leaf proves that it wasn’t just freshman phenom point guard Lonzo Ball that carried UCLA to the Sweet 16.

While he is 6-foot-10, Leaf is a slender 225 pounds coming out of UCLA. He’ll need to put on some weight to be an effective power forward in this league. Should his smooth stroke from distance translate, he can work his way into Nate McMillan’s rotation as a stretch four off the bench.

Adding Leaf is very much a developmental project for the Pacers, but not a cumbersome one. He’s in no way, shape or form going to be like former Westwood one-and-done player Kevin Love, but the Pacers seemed to have gotten a solid prospect at No. 18 in Leaf.

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