26. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers) draft Dariq Whitehead
Whitehead was the number one player in the 2022 high school class, but injuries limited him during his lone season at Duke. He just underwent a second foot surgery. Whitehead is expected to be back before training camp, but his college struggles coupled with another surgery could push him out of the first round entirely.
The 18-year-old profiles as a scorer, shot-maker, and stout defender. He is 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan and coming off a season where he shot 42.9 percent on 98 3-point attempts. There is plenty to be excited about, but how do the injuries and limited minutes impact his draft position?
The Indiana Pacers have three first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft, so they can afford to take a swing. Head coach Rick Carlisle wants his team shooting threes, and the Pacers' rebuild should have them searching for top-end talent. Whitehead could be the steal of the draft in the late first round, but only if his health improves.
Fans will not get to see Dariq Whitehead in summer league, so he will be a total unknown heading into training camp. The Pacers will be hoping his foot issues are in the past, and he can quickly get back to being one of the best players in this class if they select him here.