Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird admitted he was surprised at who was still on the board when his team was on clock in the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft.
The Pac-12 Player of the Year averaged 20.7 points per game as a senior for the Ducks. He tied the single-season school record of 745 points, originally set by Terrell Brandon.
Perhaps most impressive were his performances in the NCAA Tournament against the Wisconsin Badgers. He scored a game-high 30 points in a loss to the Final Four-bound Badgers in March, and had 29 points against the same Big Ten opponent in the 2014 tournament.
“Joe’s going to push the ball and make shots,” Bird said at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “He’s 6-2, he’s quick, he’s active. We liked Joe all year.
“We were pretty surprised he’d be there, but he’s there and we got him and now we’ve just got to get him integrated in what we’re trying to do and hopefully we can get the ball up and down the court a little faster.”
The Pacers drafted Texas 6-11 center Myles Turner in the first round with the 11th overall pick. Turner is from Bedford, Texas. Young is also from the Lone Star State. He played his high school ball in Houston.
Young’s father, Michael, was the third-leading scorer in Houston Cougars history and was drafted 24th overall by the Boston Celtics in 1984. The elder Young played for the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers in a three-year NBA career.
Joseph Young started his college career at his dad’s alma mater. He led the Cougars in scoring at 18 points per game as a sophomore in 2012-13, then transferred to Oregon, where he averaged 18.9 points as a junior and bumped that average 1.8 points higher last season.
Since last season ended with the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10, Bird has said the Pacers needed to become more perimeter-oriented and play a more up-tempo style of game.
While Turner is just 19 and the Big 12 Freshman of the Year played only one season of college ball, he addresses the team’s need for a post presence, especially in light of a report that forward David West intends to opt out of the final year of his contract.
Young provides a boost in 3-point shooting. He was second in the Pac-12 with 2.5 3-pointers made per game. He’s also excellent at the line — Young made a school-record 92.5 percent of his foul shots last season.
“He can play both,” Bird said of playing guard. “He’d be a small two guard. He’s a shooter, he’s a scorer, he’s an attacker. It’s fun to watch him play. He played very well when he was here (for a pre-draft workout), he played well at Chicago and he had a great year at Oregon. I’m looking forward to seeing how he competes against the big boys.”
The Pacers are counting on point guard George Hill to be more of a scorer, but Bird said he is optimistic Young can make the squad.
“I hope so,” Bird said. “I like him. I really like him. I think he’s got a good opportunity to make our team.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.