Indiana Pacers: 3 perfect combinations for their 3 1st-round picks

Jarace Walker, NBA Draft (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
Jarace Walker, NBA Draft (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Cam Whitmore (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Cam Whitmore (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers have the extreme luxury of three first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. What are the best (realistic) hypothetical outcomes? 

The Indiana Pacers face a pivotal summer after limping to the finish line in April. The final result of 35-47 and 11th place in the East wasn’t the most inspiring, but the Pacers did look like a genuine postseason threat early in the year. Injuries and the inevitable inconsistencies of youth got in the way, but the Pacers aren’t as far from contention as their record might suggest.

Tyrese Haliburton is ideally the foundation upon which the next decade of Pacers basketball will be built. He emerged as arguably the league’s best playmaker last season, finishing second in assists per game and dramatically improving as a pull-up shooter and driver. He has many All-Star berths in his future.

The Pacers also re-upped Myles Turner and received productive stretches from last year’s No. 6 pick, Bennedict Mathurin. Now, Indiana owns the No. 7 pick — along with the No. 26 and No. 29 picks, for good measure. Indiana could always pursue a consolidation trade, but with the new CBA looming, there’s appeal in the idea of adding three affordable young players under long-term team control.

Perfect NBA Draft combinations for the Indiana Pacers

3. Cam Whitmore, Andre Jackson Jr., Kris Murray

Cam Whitmore was the least consistent and productive of the projected top-7 picks last season, but his lukewarm production at Villanova shouldn’t scare off the Pacers. Whitmore is a powerful athlete on the wing, much stronger than your typical 18-year-old and capable of explosive forays to the rim.

He lags behind the likes of Brandon Miller or Jarace Walker in terms of polish, but Whitmore puts consistent pressure on the rim and he’s pretty high-feel for such a dynamic athlete. He would be well positioned for immediate success with Indiana, orbiting the Haliburton star as a slasher, cutter, and vertical threat. He should bolster the Pacers’ wing defense in due time.

Andre Jackson won the title with UConn and should be ready to contribute day one for a Pacers team looking to win games sooner than later. He’s not going to score much, but Jackson is a lively transition playmaker who operates with tremendous offensive awareness and basketball I.Q. His ability to set up teammates and make the small winning plays could earn him an immediate home in the second unit.

Kris Murray, twin brother of last year’s No. 4 pick Keegan Murray, has a similar baseline appeal when projecting toward the NBA. He’s 6-foot-8 with a smooth 3-point stroke and some defensive chops. He’s not as dynamic offensively as his brother, but Murray can still set screens, cut, and make quick passing reads in the flow of the offense. He would give the Pacers some much-needed support at the four spot.