One power forward led to another in the Indiana Pacers’ NBA draft Thursday night.
After the Pacers took the guesswork out of what they would do with the 20th overall pick by trading it earlier in the day to the Brooklyn Nets for nine-year forward Thaddeus Young, Pacers president Larry Bird selected Iowa State forward Georges Niang in the second round with the 50th overall pick.
Niang, 6-8 and 231, was a scorer with size in his senior season for the Cyclones as he averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. In four years at Iowa State, he averaged 15.4 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Niang described himself as “A playmaking (power forward) that can space the floor and play-make for others” in a recent interview with the Des Moines Register.
Bird wants a roster that fits today’s NBA, which means an up-tempo offense that will score more. Both players added Thursday are in line with that philosophy.
In the days leading up to the draft, Niang conceded the uncertainty about if he would hear his name called in an interview with the Des Moines Register. But the newspaper quoted ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, who was convinced Niang would be chosen.
“I think he will hear his name called,” Fraschilla said. “I have a hard time believing there are 60 better players in this draft than Georges.”
Fraschilla says Niang is ideal for small ball with skills suited toward taking advantage of offensive spacing. The analyst likes his basketball smarts, although he alluded to defense being an issue.
While trades in back-to-back days won’t be official until July, Bird addressed the point guard position Wednesday by trading for Jeff Teague. Atlanta received the 12th overall pick from the Utah Jazz, who got longtime Pacers guard George Hill in the deal.
Young was acquired for the 20th overall pick as well as a future projected second-round selection. He fits nicely into the Pacers’ front line with three-time All-Star Paul George and center Myles Turner, named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team last season.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.