The Indiana Pacers is one youthful team that surprised a ton of NBA fans at the early juncture of the season. They were competing for a Top 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, with Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield leading the way. As reality kicks in, however, it was made clear they needed help to sustain the early success after sliding to 11th in the East and outside of the play-in tournament.
Despite the unfortunate standing, the Pacers were rewarded with the no. 7 pick in the deep 2023 NBA Draft. There are rumors that they may move the valuable selection for players who can help them compete sooner rather than later. Since draft assets are coveted, the return package they could receive could be significant.
With that said, here are the three best trades the Pacers could do using the no. 7 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
3. OG Anunoby
One individual in the middle of a slew of trade talks since last season is Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby. The Raptors gave their main men one previous shot as they stuck to their core in the 2022-23 campaign, but in the end, they failed to advance past the play-in tournament. The changes started with their head coach, so it is possible for them to move some of their core pieces.
Anunoby is a perfect fit alongside Haliburton and Turner because they need a potent wing who fits head coach Rick Carlisle’s system. There are terrific scorers like Hield and Bennedict Mathurin on the lineup, but the Pacers still need an excellent defensive wing who can convert consistent spot-up threes. Some pundits may overrate Anunoby’s value on the market, but his contributions will be immense.
Similar to the prototype of Anunoby, a more well-rounded option in that role is Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges. The massive hindrance is convincing the Nets to trade Bridges for any package. He does not look to be available on the market, but a return package centered around Mikal Bridges would be remarkable for Indiana’s progression to becoming a perennial contender again.
The defense of Bridges has been sensational since his rookie year, but his offensive repertoire has grown leaps and bounds in his first couple of years in the NBA, as we have all seen since he was traded to the Nets. His adaptability and selflessness are some vital traits that will be integral to his fit with Indiana. The timeline of Haliburton, Mathurin and Bridges are all at a similar trajectory, which will be a delightful sight for the organization.
1. John Collins and De’Andre Hunter
If the Pacers cannot pry away the two studs from the Raptors and Nets, respectively, they can negotiate a deal with the Atlanta Hawks centered around John Collins and De’Andre Hunter. These guys are tremendous forwards, but one can argue that their trade value is not too high right now. Indiana can pounce on the rare opportunity and snag two players who will fill their weaknesses in that position.
Adding Collins can give them a different look at the center when Turner is off the floor, or he can also play alongside him due to their athleticism and long-distance shooting. Furthermore, Hunter can be the main option to guard the best individual on the opposing squad, whether he starts at the 3 or 4 positions. The defense of the Pacers was lackluster throughout the season, and these two additions will be a massive help in that department.