INDIANAPOLIS — Dylan Windler is taking in all of the fun moments during the NBA predraft process.
While working out for his hometown team, the Indiana Pacers, last month, the 6-foot-7 Windler met and shook hands with Basketball Hall of Famer and Pacers executive Larry Bird. For an Indianapolis native, Windler said getting a chance to talk to Bird was like meeting royalty.
“It’s an honor to be able to play in front of him, let along knock down some 3s in front of an all-time legend,” Windler said.
Windler should get a chance to knock down plenty of 3-pointers for an NBA team this upcoming season. A former Perry Meridian standout who led Indiana prep players in scoring in 2014-15, Windler emerged as one of the best wing shooters in college basketball at Belmont last season — shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range his senior year.
As a result, Windler is a projected second-round pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, with a chance to sneak into the late first round. One NBA mock draft website, NBADraft.net, has predicted Windler to get selected as the last pick in the first round (30th overall) to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Windler said adapting to the deeper 3-point line during NBA workouts hasn’t been difficult. He showed it by making seven 3-pointers in a row in front of Bird last month. Windler said his coach at Belmont, the recently retired Rick Byrd, gave him the green light to shoot from anywhere on the floor. Windler often hoisted shots three or four steps behind the college line last season.
“The last two years, I had the ultimate green light,” Windler said. “I shot it from a lot of places. I practiced my last year of college shooting from deep range to get used to it, make that transition easier.”
But Windler said there have been some adjustments during the workout process, like getting used to the NBA Spalding basketball. He joked he’s been sleeping with it in order to get a better feel for it.
“It’s a little harder,” Windler said. “It’s not as soft as the leather. The grip is different. So that’s just a little thing.”
Windler has worked out for a number of NBA teams, including the Pacers, Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. He said he’s taking the approach of showing teams he’s more than just a shooter during the workouts. Windler averaged 10.8 rebounds last season at Belmont and has shown good instincts on the boards throughout his college career.
“A lot of these teams know I can shoot,” Windler said. “That’s why I’m here. That’s why I kind of got in this position.
“But it’s some of the question marks I’m trying to prove. Can I defend multiple position switch? Be a versatile defender? The little things. I need to be an energy guy coming off the bench, a good role player to help the team in all the ways, whether it’s just grabbing rebounds, I’ve shown that I can rebound at a high level, grabbing offensive rebounds, diving on the floor, getting extra possessions.”
Windler would be thrilled if he got drafted by the Pacers on Thursday night. He grew up going to Pacers games, rooting for the Danny Granger-led teams earlier this decade.
“Danny Granger was my favorite player growing up,” Windler said. “I came to a lot of games, and he was the go-to guy back them.”
But Windler said just hearing his name on NBA draft night will be the realization of a dream. Windler said when he was a freshman at Belmont, he was just happy to get a Division I scholarship offer, but the visualization of becoming an NBA player became more clear as his college career progressed.
“I got better every year,” Windler said. “I put the work in over the summer, and I was just trying to get better. There’s a goal in the distance to get to the NBA, but every day I was just working to better myself as a player and if that came, it came, and eventually junior, senior year I started to play really well that started to come for me.”