INDIANAPOLIS – The Pacers are wrapping up their evaluations for the NBA Draft hosting a final workout at the team facility on Tuesday morning.
Former Duke guard Trevor Keels and center Kai Sotto, an international prospect from the Philippines worked out in front of management.
The Pacers have the sixth overall pick in Thursday’s draft, the team’s highest selection since taking Florida State’s George McCloud seventh in 1989.
“It’s been a long time,” said Pacers vice president of player personnel Ryan Carr. “Obviously, you want every player you pick, no matter what number to succeed, but the sixth pick we want to be a foundational piece for us.”
The Pacers are picking that high after a 25-57 record and 13th place finish in the Eastern Conference last season.
“It’s a lot of fun right now,” Carr said. “The season to get here wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but hopefully this is a reward for all of the players and our whole staff for going through a tough season and hopefully helps us get back to where we want to be.”
Team president Kevin Pritchard told reporters after the lottery this draft has the potential to turn around the franchise, but Carr said after Tuesday’s workout he doesn’t feel any added pressure.
“Whoever you pick, you want to succeed, so I think the pressure we put on ourselves is pretty consistent, said Carr. “We always prepare to have the first pick. That’s just part of what we do and how we prepare.
“It’s fun to have this pick. It will be exciting to see what happens Thursday night. We feel good that we’re going to get somebody that is going to be a great Pacer.”
Fans will be keeping a close eye on the first five picks to see if former Purdue standout Jaden Ivey will be available for the Pacers to pick. The team interviewed the All-American guard at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, then had a follow-up Zoom call with him.
“His speed is what sets him apart,” Carr said of the South Bend native. “There just aren’t many players with that kind of speed, the ability to put the pressure on the rim and score. He’s really improved over the last couple of years his shooting and has shown the ability to hit threes.
“I can’t speak from experience, but somebody that fast, if he can hit a jumper and go by you, I don’t know how you guard him. That’s a pretty tough guy to guard.”
The Pacers also have two second round picks. The first pick of the round at No. 31 overall and the very last pick of the draft, No. 58.
Carr, who was a student manager for Bob Knight at Indiana, will be in the draft room on Thursday.
“There’s phones ringing,” Carr explained about his role on draft night. “We’re going through making sure Kevin has all the information to make quick decisions. I have as much as I can pack in my brain ready and I have everything else right in front of me.”
He’ll be the one to call the team’s picks into the NBA after a final decision has been made.
“If I would have told my 12-year-old self that’s a job I would have one day, I probably wouldn’t have believed it,” Carr joked.