Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan spoke with a group of people connected to the Mad Ants today in a conversation hosted by Fort Wayne radio personality and Mad Ants PA announcer Jim Shovlin. Most of the questions Shovlin asked related to the Pacers' experience in the NBA's "Bubble" in Orlando as the league tries to get the season back underway in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Buchanan did speak about the Mad Ants, as well, however, and here are the highlights from those moments of the conversation.
On how the G League is working with the NBA as partners in player development: "I give credit to the (Mad Ants) organization, Coach (Steve) Gansey, (general manager) Brian Levy, all those guys have done a great job of helping develop our players. We have 17 total players in our (Pacers) organization when you include Naz (Mitrou-Long) and Brian (Bowen II) on our two-way contracts. Coach (Nate) McMillan can't play 17 guys, so those other guys it's about their development and sending them to play on assignment with the Mad Ants, we know they're in good hands, we know they're going to get opportunity, we know they're going to develop.
"Coach Gansey and Coach McMillan are just in sync with each other on what's needed from each player when they're on assignment and I feel like guys come back from getting back, getting an opportunity to play in games, guys like Alize (Johnson), he's stuck, very rarely gets into a game (with the Pacers) and he's itching to play. Practice is fun, but you want to play in some games and get some game minutes and I feel like Alize always comes back from assignment with more confidence. His attitude, I can just tell, there's a difference in him when he goes down and plays in those (G League) games and comes back to us, I just sense some confidence level, which credit to Coach Gansey and his staff for instilling that in them when they're on assignment."
On when the NBA Draft will take place: "This will be the longest draft process in the history of professional sports. It went from June 25 to Oct. 16 (when the draft begins), so they've backed it up and there are still some things to be determined on a Combine, but we've been able to virtually interview – our scouting staff has virtually interviewed about 50 prospects. Our pick right now, we traded our first-round pick last year to acquire Malcolm Brogdon, so our first-round pick is not ours, it's actually Milwaukee's, but our second-round pick will be either 49, 50 or 51, depending on how we finish in the standings.
"The draft isn't a huge priority for us right now, just because of where our pick stands, but our scouting staff has got us prepared. We were full bore there in April and May, assuming we were still going to have the draft in June and then they backed it up and we scaled back a little bit of that. We'll ramp that up again here in September. Hopefully we have some kind of Combine to meet these kids in person, get some data on them."