KRAVITZ: In UCLA's Holiday, the Pacers have their point guard (or backup point guard) of the future

UCLA's Aaron Holiday dribbles up the court during the first half of a First Four game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament against St. Bonaventure, Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Bob Kravitz

At some point, Kevin Pritchard is going to make a mistake during his Pacers' tenure. We know he will. They all make mistakes eventually; even San Antonio's R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich whiff once in a blue moon. And when he does, we'll call him on it because, well, that's what we do here in the second-guessing department.

But not yet.

Because Pritchard's selection of UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday with the 23rd selection in Thursday night's NBA Draft was an undeniably strong one, a perfect pick at the perfect time. Even those of us who clamored for Villanova star Jalen Brunson, who was selected by Atlanta in the second round, were thrilled that Holiday was still available at No. 23. He's a two-way point guard, a scorer, a 3-point shooter, a defender, a young man with a family basketball pedigree who last year became the first UCLA player to lead the Pac-12 in scoring since somebody named Reggie Miller did it 32 years ago.

The Pacers are heading into next season with the knowledge that their two top point guards, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph, are both entering the final years of their contracts. One of them, or maybe both of them, will not be Pacers after this upcoming season. Is he the point guard of the future?

He very well could be.

If he's anything like his brothers Jrue and Justin, both NBA players, Holiday is headed toward a very productive NBA career. This is a young man from a basketball family. He knows what it takes, and what it's going to take, to make his way in the league.

A couple of statistical notes worth mentioning, and yes, I'm taking this right off the fact sheet the Pacers distributed:

He led the Pac-12 in scoring at 20.3 points-per-game.

He was the first UCLA player to average at least 20 points per game since Ed O'Bannon in 1994-95.

Along with his scoring acumen, Holiday was second in his conference in assists (5.8 assists per game) and fifth in 3-point field-goal percentage (42.9 percent).

He joined Bill Walton – Bill Walton!! – as the only other UCLA player to average at least 19 points and five assists.

He led UCLA in assists and steals last year.

He was an All-Pac-12 first team selection and make the conference's all-defensive team.

Here's what UCLA coach Steve Alford said about Holiday: "He's such a driven young man with a burning desire to get better at both ends. It's hard for me to put into words what Aaron meant to our team. He was simply remarkable. I know Aaron is ready to make the jump."

Seriously, you had me at Reggie Miller.

And Bill Walton.

"He's a solid guard, high basketball IQ, a two-way player," said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. "We feel he's going to fit into the culture of this team. With the 23rd pick, you're taking the best talent. We really want to bring in two-way players, guys who want to play on both ends of the floor…Things fell the way we thought they would and we were able to get our guy."

When the Pacers' selection rolled around, Holiday was the best available player on almost everybody's board, and after a prolonged wait in the green room – he was the last player to earn his release from green-room purgatory – analyst Chauncey Billups, a big Holiday booster, said, "Thank you. Thank you."

It was about time.

And it's a perfect time, a perfect fit, for a selfless Pacers team that needed another point guard, although Joe Young – see ya, Joe – might not agree. Holiday may be the future starter. He may be the future backup. Either way, he will be a key rotational player for a team that will look a whole lot different after next season. Keep in mind, the only current Pacers who are slated to be under contract in 2019-20 are Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu. It should be noted, though, that the Pacers have just begun retooling and upgrading this team. There's still time to trade. There's still free agency. There are still decisions to be made, beginning with the one that Thad Young makes as he addresses his player option by June 29.

If the seven-game series loss to Cleveland showed us anything, it's that the Pacers need scoring options, and shooting, to work with Oladipo. Better yet, Holiday can also defend despite his smallish, 6-foot, 1-inch stature. (Every NBA Draft column is required to mention wingspan, so here it is: He has a 6-foot, 7-inch wingspan). More important, he's a fighter, a player who takes pride in his defense, which makes him a nice fit for a team that has always made its bones on the defensive end.

There are questions, but then, there are supposed to be questions when you're chosen at No. 23. There are questions about his ability to finish at the rim. There are questions about his decision making; he was turnover-prone at times at UCLA. There are questions about his size. There are no finished products at the 23rd spot. But if he develops the way the Pacers think he will develop, and he's going to have two terrific mentors in Collison and Joseph, he has a chance to be the team's point guard of the future. At the very least, he will be the backup point guard of the future.

Pritchard is going to swing and miss at some point because they all swing and miss at some point. This time, though, he mashed a solid double to left-centerfield. A good team just became better. It's all you can ask – maybe more than you can ask – when you're selecting 23rd. Did we mention the Reggie Miller note? All I needed to hear.

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