Pacers outline expectations for rookie class

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Aaron Holiday #3 of the UCLA Bruins is guarded by Parker Jackson-Cartwright #0 of the Arizona Wildcats during a semifinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 9, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wildcats won 78-67 in overtime. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As a first round pick, Aaron Holiday understandably has immediate expectations for himself in the NBA.

“Very blessed, very excited,” Holiday says, as he looks forward to joining the Pacers on the court. “I feel like I can come in and help them right away,”

But what exactly are the Pacers expecting of their new point guard?

“I see him competing for minutes,” explained Pacers President Kevin Pritchard. “One thing you know about that third point guard position: During the season, you get a chance to play. I’d be shocked if he didn’t play some this year.”

So Holiday is expected to play a limited role, like Joe Young last year, who only played more than 20 minutes in a game eight times throughout the season. It is in future seasons where the Pacers hope this pick pans out.

“Darren (Collison’s) on a one-year contract,” added Pritchard. “Cory (Joseph’s) on a one-year contract. We felt like we really needed to have a point guard in the pipeline.

“He has some characteristics of a starter.”

One of those characteristics the Pacers’ front office and coaches point out about Holiday is his confidence, and they’re encouraged that his confidence hasn’t turned into arrogance.

“You see these young kids,” smiled Pritchard. “They get interviewed and they’re like, ‘I’m ready to be an All-Star.’ I think he can look in the mirror and understand, ‘I’ve got a chance to be a good player’, but as you saw in his interview (at the NBA Draft), the first thing he said was ‘I have to get back working.'”

Can’t leave out second round pick Alize Johnson, but immediate expectations for the Missouri State product don’t include the Pacers.

“Alize’s not a guy that’s gonna play next year,” said Pritchard, before adding that he could, but it’s unlikely. “With that position, I wanted to have a guy (head coach) Nate (McMillan) could throw out into the game and guard someone in February. Someone that says ‘I don’t care about anything. Just put me on the floor in February where everyone is tired, and I’m gonna do something.'”

Our first peek at exactly what this duo can do will come in the Vegas Summer League. The Pacers’ first game comes against the Rockets July 6.

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