INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers selected Oregon guard Chris Duarte with the 13th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, adding scoring punch off the bench.
At age 24, he was the oldest player in the draft. But he averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals in his second and final season with the Ducks and at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds possesses the kind of size, general manager Kevin Pritchard was looking to add to his backcourt.
The Pacers believe Duarte, who shot 53.2% from the field and 42.4% on 3-pointers, can help them return to the playoffs after being eliminated in the play-in round last season.
Indiana has struggled with injuries each of the past three seasons. A repeat of that would mean Duarte likely would see even more action than initially anticipated.
The Pacers find themselves in an odd situation with all five projected starters already under contract for next season, giving them stability on the floor. But they’re also working with their third coach in three seasons.
Indiana fired Nate McMillan in August 2020 after the Pacers endured their third first-round sweep in four years. Pritchard then hired Nate Bjorkgren in October only to let him go in June following a tumultuous season that included reports of internal strife and a public spat between assistant coach Greg Foster and backup center Goga Bitadze, Indiana’s first-round pick in 2019.
Pritchard rehired former Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle last month.
Indiana can still add bench help. The Pacers still had two second-round picks, No. 54 and No. 60, which were both acquired in trades prior to the draft.