Why second-round pick Mojave King chose to join the Mad Ants and how they plan to develop him
King talks with Fieldhouse Files about his decision to return to the G League and his injury. Plus, insight from the Mad Ants GM Chris Taylor and coach Tom Hankins on their development plans.
With the 47th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers selected Mojave King from the G League Ignite.
With a full 15-man roster, they drafted him with the intentions to stash him overseas for a few years to develop before potentially having him join the fold. He was one of their four draft picks that night. Later, they used the 55th overall pick on guard Isaiah Wong out of the University of Miami and signed him to one of three two-way contracts.
King, 21, watched the draft with friends in Irvine, California and was ecstatic when he heard his name called at 47. “Especially to a team like this was a great feeling,” he said.
Before then, he participated in the team’s 12th pre-draft workout and left with a good feeling, especially after having good conversations with the coaches over lunch.
King played in summer league with the Pacers and was reunited with Bennedict Mathurin, who he had previously played against at an NBA Academy. The summer time was all about settling in and getting more comfortable against higher competition.
“He’s a smart basketball player,” said Jannero Pargo, who coached the Summer Pacers. “He knows the right places to be in, a very good cutter off the ball, a good shooter — not a great shooter yet, but he has great mechanics and it won’t be long until he’s an absolute terrific 3-point shooter.”
After Las Vegas in mid-July, King returned home to Australia with an open mind about where he would play next. His priority was to find a good situation for his development at the highest level possible.
“My journey has already been different,” he acknowledged in the summer. “I know everyone has a different pathway and everyone takes a different route to get to their goals.
“The Ignite was great for me. It was exactly what I needed. Coming over to America and playing the NBA style of play I think was really good for me. I think it suits my game a little bit more than the international style of play so it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of development, a lot of learning.”
He averaged 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for the Ignite.
King was on the Pacers’ radar for many years, first playing in Australia and then in the G League. Mad Ants coaches and scouts got a first-hand look at him during their two matchups in Las Vegas and then the pre-draft process.
Returning to the G League
King had a decision to make about where to play next and he elected to return to the G League and play for the Indiana Mad Ants — the Pacers’ affiliate — over going to Europe or Australia.
“I think I had a great year, just in terms of development in the G League last year,” King told Fieldhouse Files. “And then when my agent (Daniel Moldovan) pitched this opportunity to me, he said that there was a couple other things I could’ve done with this next season, but this was the situation that he liked the most for me to develop and get to where I’m trying to go — which is in the NBA full-time.
“I agreed with him. I thought this is one of the best run organizations in the G League so to come in here, be around the NBA facility and with a great G League organization, I thought that couldn’t be beat.”
Mad Ants players train at the Pacers’ practice facility, they live one block away and play home games at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. There’s a lot to like about the synergy between the two programs.
“The more we talked with his representation and talked with him and talked organizationally, I think it was a perfect pairing to do a draft-and-stash in G League,” said Mad Ants general manager Chris Taylor. “It’s been done before, though we have not done it. So again, it’s uncharted territory for us a little bit.