The first sign Frank Vogel might be destined to coach the Indiana Pacers occurred 42 years ago.
Vogel, pictured, entered the world in an upstate New York hospital 40 days after the franchise celebrated its third and final ABA championship.
Since taking over the Pacers 44 games into the 2010-11 season, Vogel’s teams have won 58 percent of the time, qualified for a pair of Eastern Conference Finals and lost its superstar to injury for all of last season.
Always optimistic, Vogel said he looks forward to the 2015-16 season, which might not feature power forward David West and post Roy Hibbert in blue and gold.
West opted out of the final year of his contract last week; the status of Hibbert is uncertain.
Regardless what happens, Vogel said he is excited about the infusion of young talent to be infused into the roster in the form of 6-foot-11 Myles Turner and second-round draft selection Joseph Young, a 6-2 guard and reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Vogel sat down for a Q&A about the NBA Draft and the outlook for the Pacers’ future:
Describe your role on Draft Night, and how much weight does your opinion carry?
Once the evening comes, I’ve already given my two cents in terms of the order, the players that are available and how I would view them. Larry (Bird) makes the ultimate decision on those, and I’m there to provide input.
Why can’t you wait to coach Myles Turner?
He’s a big-time athlete. Obviously very articulate. Very intelligent. And he’s very skilled, and he’s 19. You get a guy that’s 19, you can really shape them to be the kind of player that you want them to be. You don’t have to break habits and customs and all that stuff. We feel very strongly he’s going to be a solid contributor for us.
Does Turner’s youth excite or scare you?
It excites me more than anything. Obviously you’re going to deal with a learning curve and some mistakes there like you see with all young players. But look at his ability and what he can become, and it’s impossible not to be excited.
Had Justise Winslow still been available at No. 11 would the Pacers have drafted him?
You would have to ask Larry that. I don’t think we would, but we love having Myles Turner.
Is Joseph Young a “1” or a “2” guard in the Pacers’ plans?
He’s a scoring “1.” He’s got a lot of guts and a lot of heart. And a lot of toughness. Just a big-time shot maker and scorer who can really push the tempo in the open court. He’s a scoring point guard, but he makes good basketball plays. We’re really excited about that.
How do these two fit in with the supposed chance to play smaller and faster next season?
Joe will help us play fast and give us that scoring punch. We need more offense in our rotation, and he’s going to be able to provide that. Myles is just a great athlete at the center position, but his shooting allows him to play the “4” or the “5.” Today’s game is playing a little more up-tempo, but it’s more about playing with more space without sacrificing anything on the defensive end.
With the draft over and free agency starting, what’s the team’s most glaring need?
It depends, really, on what we see with David (West) and Roy (Hibbert). Hopefully those guys are back. If they’re not, obviously we have to fill their spots, and we can get deeper at the wing spot. We’re also going to need some depth at the point guard spot.