Hayward is a spitting-image of traditional Indiana basketball and he is not the overwhelming favorite to be the Pacers' pick at number 10. Actually he's not even a favorite at all. In fact, it doesn't sound like he is being considered in the slightest for the number 10 pick.
Why? Why not Hayward at number 10?
Pacers fans have some obvious reservations. One is that the Pacers need a Point Guard and a Post Player. Another is that the Pacers already have players with the skill set of Hayward. Others range from him being too young to that there would be too much pressure on his shoulders. All are legitimate concerns. But, there is a counter argument to all of these.
And, submitted for your consideration, here it is.
Indy needs a point guard and a power forward: There is an NBA-ready Point Guard in this year's Draft, and John Wall is going to disappear off the board about ten minutes after the Draft begins. The next best point guard is Eric Bledsoe, who is not ready to be a starting point guard in this league. Therefore, the Pacers need to trade for one. Many Young Guns have had their names thrown out as possibilities, and one I find very interesting. The Pacers, in theory, could obtain both Raymond Felton of Charlotte and Eric Maynor from Oklahoma City without spending the number 10 pick. That would fix the Pacers void at the Point. So the Post player is an obvious pick for Indiana. Yes, but it just so happens that this draft is very deep in Big Men. Jerome Jordan (Tulsa), Samardo Samuels (Louisville), Art Parakhouski (Redford), Charles Garcia (Seattle) and Derrick Caracter (UTEP) are sizable big men that will be there for the picking in the second round, where Indiana has two selections. Another very attractive option is the best shot blocker in the Draft, Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State). Varnado is an athletic big man who averaged 4 blocks a game over his college career. He will be available in the second round.
So, with the 10th pick the Pacers could spend it on their other, and not as obvious need: a scorer from the wing position. This sounds odd, since the Pacers have Danny Granger, but that is the only consistent scorer from the wing. Granger averaged 24.1 points last season, the next highest wing player was Dahntay Jones with 10.2. That is nearly a 14 point drop off this is not a knock on Jones, dropping 15 or 16 a night is not his game. But, that could be part of Gordon Hayward's. Having Hayward, would help pull the scoring load off of Granger and having Granger on the court would take the burden of scoring and top defenders away from Hayward. He wouldn't even have to start to be effective. Hayward's scoring touch off the bench would be a great improvement over an injured Mike Dunleavy and an inconsistent Brandon Rush. The Pacers need a sharpshooter who can consistently hit from downtown as well as from mid-range. This is Gordon Hayward's specialty.
The Pacers have players like him: Yes and No. Mike Dunleavy is who Hayward is compared to often. Yes they are similar. But, Hayward is a more accurate shooter from the field and from the line; Hayward hit nearly 60 percent of his shots from inside the three-point-line. Gordon is also a better passer and defender, while being nearly a decade and $5 million cheaper than Dunleavy.
Youth and Pressure: The pressure that will be on this kid to play well in Indianapolis will be immense. Many would crumble under it. But Hayward has been under the pressure before, and played well in it. Even thrived. In his senior year in High School he hit the game winning shot to give Brownsburg the class 4A State title. In college he led tiny Butler to the Championship Game in a packed Lucas Oil Stadium. He played tremendously well against Michigan State in the semi-final and then came oh so close to rip the title away from Duke. He has already played solid basketball on the biggest stage in his home town.
In 1987 NBA Draft, the home town favorite Steve Alford was overlooked for Reggie Miller, which in hindsight was a fantastic choice. This is not the same situation. The crowd does not want the hometown talent. In 1987 the hometown talent could shoot the lights out, but was not quite tall enough (6'2") to be a shooting guard, and didn't have the ball handling ability of the point guard. In 2010 the hometown talent can shoot the lights out and has a size advantage (6'8") on almost all shooting guards in the NBA and matches up well at small forward. Not to mention Hayward has the ball-handling ability and on-court-vision of a point guard, because that's what he grew up playing. This year the hometown talent has all of the tools that a wing player needs in the NBA.
On top of that, Hayward is a winner something the Pacers haven't had in a while. A pairing of Granger and Hayward at the 2 and 3 creates a size mismatch on both offense and defense. Hayward's court vision and passing will open up more options for not only Granger, but the point guard and the Bigs down low.
All I'm trying to say is that Hayward should not be dismissed as a legitimate option for the Pacers at number 10. Hayward is not going to be an all-star right out of the box, but neither is Ekpe Udoh. Udoh is an extremely attractive option at number ten, so is trading the pick. I would not be disappointed in either of those choices. I also wouldn't mind if the Pacers got their hands on Patrick Patterson or Hassan Whiteside for the record. But don't forget when the Indianapolis Colts took Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark in the draft. The common reaction was: "Why did we take these guys? We don't need them." Those two players have happened to work out. Maybe the new Hoosier Hoops legend might as well.