What Does a Draft Pick Get You? – What Did a Draft Pick Get 'Em?

To get a sense of what may be coming on Draft Night 2012, let’s take a look at what the other Draft Nights have looked like for the Pacers.

As always, here are the links to the rest of the discussion.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The SituationThe Pacers had just won a franchise-record 61 games, giving them the best record in the NBA that season. Indiana needed to figure out how to get past the defending champion Detroit Pistons, but it was unlikely that it would come from their picks – which were the final pick of each round.

Who they got – Indiana took David Harrison, a 7-footer from Colorado, at 29, and Rashad Wright, a 6-2 guard from Georgia, at 59. Wright was cut in training camp, but Harrison lasted four relatively uneventful years in the Blue-and-Gold. He played almost 2,700 minutes in 189 games – even starting 33 of them – while posting an AdjPR100 of 2.86 and compiled 3.1 Win Shares.

Probably best remembered for either his brief suspension for testing positive for drugs, or for his temper, Harrison fell out of the NBA after his rookie deal ended in 2008. Still, his career was fairly representative for a #29 pick, finishing 15th in the study for AdjPR100 and 17th in total Win Shares.

Who they wish they got – One pick after the Pacers took Harrison, Cleveland selected Anderson Varejao. Varejao’s AdjPR100 is 9.55 (degraded by a reliability factor under 70%) and his almost 35 Win Shares are 10th most from the 2004 class. Though somewhat injury prone, Sideshow Andy has proven to be one of the better defensive big men in the league.

Possibly Apocryphal Story that’s Fun to Tell, Nonetheless – The big rumor on draft night was that the Pacers were going to trade Al Harrington to the Bulls, who held both the third and seventh picks. The common gossip was that Larry Bird wanted to move up to grab Luke Jackson from Oregon. Nothing came to fruition, and Chicago drafted Ben Gordon at #3 and Luol Deng at #7.

The story that came out later was that Bird was not, in fact, interested in Jackson, who failed miserably in the NBA. Apparently, his target was Ben Gordon, and the deal fell apart on Bird’s insistence on the #3 instead of #7. It would make for an interesting exercise to go through the chain of events that would follow, had Indiana agreed to use Al Harrington to get the #7 (and Luol Deng or Andre Iguodala), and not to get Stephen Jackson.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The SituationPost-brawl, and post-Reggie, the Pacers were trying to right the ship. The one upside of the debacle that was the 2005 season was the Pacers had an unusually high draft pick (#17) for a team considered to be a contender. They also had the #46 pick.

Who they got – Though projected as a Top 10 pick, teams continued to leave Danny Granger on the board. Some of it was due to fears about Granger’s knees, and some of it was just GMs being too smart for their own good. In any case, when it was time for the 17th pick , Danny Granger became a Pacer.

At 46, the Pacers took Erazem Lorbek. Lorbek has spent his career in Europe, having some pretty good success there,  but nothing in the NBA to this point.

Who they wish they got – Arguments perhaps could be made for David Lee or Monta Ellis, but the Pacers have to be pretty happy with their guy. Granger has been and All Star and won Most Improved Player. His 16.23 AdjPR100 and 46.7 Win Shares are both 4th best in the class of 2005. His numbers also put him among the most successful players ever drafted at #17, ranking with Josh Smith, Shawn Kemp, and former Pacer Jermaine O’Neal.

Lorbek has had success overseas, and he is reportedly going to come over to San Antonio next season (where he was traded as part of the package to get George Hill). However, Pacers probably would take a do over to get Marcin Gortat (57) or perhaps even Ryan Gomes (50). Andray Blatche (49)…ehhhh…not so much.

Possibly Apocryphal Story that’s Fun to Tell, Nonetheless – The popular folklore is that Larry Bird was on the phone negotiating a trade for the 17th pick, when they got on the clock. Supposedly, he interrupted the guy on the other end of the phone, saying, “I gotta go draft Danny Granger.” And then he hung up.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The SituationA year removed from the brawl, the Pacer foundation continued to crumble with things more insidious. A December trade demand by Ron Artest devolved into a 6-week slogfest and a rental of Peja Stojakovic. It derailed the season, and Indiana limped to a .500 record and a first-round exit playing really ugly basketball. They entered the night with the 17th and 45th picks.

Who they got – Many predicted that the Pacers would go for a point guard, with rumors that they were hoping that UConn’s Marcus Williams would fall to them at 17. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Indiana reached for Shawne Williams, a promising, but immature tweener from Memphis.

Williams’ career showed flashes, but never went anywhere with the Pacers. He rates as a One Star player on this system, and has only produced 4.2 Win Shares. Things got somewhat hairy off the court, leading to Williams being traded a couple times, then falling out of the league. He got a second chance last season, and was a fairly decent role player – but still a disappointment.

At 45, the Pacers took Alexander Johnson, then trade him and two future second round draft picks for James “Flight” White from Cincinnati. White was given considerable hype, but his high water mark was committing a whole lot of a fouls in the summer league, before being cut in training camp.

Who they wish they gotWelllllll…Paul Millsap went 47th, so you could have had him instead of either (or both) Williams or White. Kyle Lowry went 24th.

But mostly…Rajon Rondo was the miss. Rondo went 21st to Boston, and went on to become one of the best point guards in the league. There were questions about his shooting ability. OK, not so much question about his shooting ability as questions about how well he could succeed with no shooting ability. Pretty well, as it turns out.

Possibly Apocryphal Story that’s Fun to Tell, Nonetheless – There’s nothing fun in talking about this draft. The best that could be said is that Marcus Williams really wouldn’t have been a better pick than Shawne. The very definition of “damning with faint praise.”

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The SituationAt this point in time, the wheels had completely come off the cart. The Pacers had traded both of their picks in the 2007 Draft the previous summer. Their first rounder went to Atlanta for Al Harrington, who was later used to help get Stephen Jackson out of town. Their second rounder went to Portland in the James White deal, who didn’t make it out of training camp as a rookie. Carlisle had been fired, and the Pacers were pretty widely hated – not disliked, hated – in the community for a series of off court transgressions that were hugely embarrassing.

Who they got – Early in the second round, we found out that the Pacers had traded a 2009 Second Round pick to get the #39 pick from Miami. That pick was used on Stanko Barac, a very raw, very young 7-footer from Bosnia. Barac has spent the time since in Europe, and it is unclear when or if he’ll ever see the NBA.

The 2009 Pick became #43, and was used on Marcus Thornton.

Who they wish they gotPretty much anyone, but the obvious choice is Marc Gasol, who went 47th. He ranks in the top 4 in the class in AdjPR100 and Win Shares, and statistically has been neck-and-neck with Joakim Noah (9th).

Atlanta used Indiana’s #11 pick to select Acie Law, who had the same cool name as Acie Earl, but lacked the fade, or any other redeeming quality. Thad Young (#12) is probably the guy I would have wanted at that spot.

Possibly Apocryphal Story that’s Fun to Tell, Nonetheless – Bird said before the draft, that he was going to make big move, and get “one of the best shooters in the game.” Rumors had the Pacers and the Rockets planning a swap that would send Ike Diogu to Houston for the #26, and the Pacers were reportedly targeting Morris Almond – a shooting guard from Rice. It never materialized, as Utah took Almond one pick earlier, and Houston took Aaron Brooks.

With no picks and no cap space, Indiana filled out the roster with minimum level players. Stephen Graham, Andre Owens, Kareem Rush, and Travis Diener were all signed to very low contracts, and all of them actually started at different times during the season. Dark days for the Pacers, indeed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The SituationThe Pacers had missed the playoffs for the second time in a row. The prior summer had been filled with rumors of JO to the Lakers, and the Pacers were clearly uncompetitive. Indiana had the 11th pick, and in the days before the draft, they agreed to a deal to send Jermaine O’Neal and the Pacers Second Round pick (#41) to Toronto for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, and #17.

Who they got – One of the interesting things that happened the day of the draft was Jerryd Bayless’ drop. Predicted in a lot of early mock drafts to go at #4, he had held there until just a day or two before the draft. Then, a combination of Russell Westbrook’s rising stock and a string of teams where Bayless wasn’t the best fit led to him falling all the way down to #11. The Pacers took him, but as part of an agreed upon trade with Portland (and the new Pacer GM – Kevin Pritchard), dealt him to the Pacific Northwest along with Ike Diogu. In return, the Pacers got the #13 pick (Brandon Rush), Jarrett Jack, and Josh McRoberts.

From that trade, the Pacers probably got the most value out of the single year of Jarrett Jack. Josh McRoberts – who was really just filler – ended up sticking, even earning a part-time starting slot, but his prominence with the Pacers said far more about how bad the Indy’s roster/bigs were than to any qualities of McBob.

Brandon Rush spent three uninspiring years with the Pacers, playing over 6,000 minutes before being dealt to Golden State for Lou Amundson. His career number are above average for a #13 (AdjPR100 9.08, 9.5 WS), but not all that hot for a Class of 2008 that was stunningly deep (would currently rate at 6th best in the study). Last season, the Wall Street Journal named him the “NBA’s most mediocre player,” and that seems to fit pretty well.   With Brandon, it was easy to see why he should be a good player, but not so easy to understand why he wasn’t.

With the #17 pick, the Pacers appear to have hit a home run with Roy Hibbert from Georgetown. This past season, Hibbert became only the fourth #17 to become an All Star. (The other three were Shawn Kemp, former Pacer Jermaine O’Neal, and current Pacer Danny Granger.) Big Roy has produced 16 Win Shares and had a solid 3-Star career. Last season, he put up 4-star numbers, with an AdjPR100 of over 19 and 6+ WS.

Who they wish they gotThough there may be some arguments, once again, I think Roy Hibbert was the right guy to take at #17. On an AdjPR100 basis, he’s top five in his class at the moment, and he’s 10th in Win Shares.

However, most of the guys taken after 17th that you might argue for over Roy almost certainly would get the nod over Brandon Rush. Current Pacer George Hill (26) is among them. Besides that, Nic Batum (25), Luc Mbah a Moute (37), and Serge Ibaka (24) are all players I would clearly choose over Brandon. Others could argue for JaVale McGee (18), DeAndre Jordan (35), Mario Chalmers (34), Courtney Lee (22), Ryan Anderson (21), or Goran Dragic (45).

As I said earlier, this was just a stunningly deep class.

Possibly Apocryphal Story that’s Fun to Tell, Nonetheless – The summer of 2008 kicked off the “Three Year Plan” for the Pacers to rebuild. Stunningly, that coincided with all the bad contracts coming off the books, so it could have also been accurately called the “We Don’t Have Any Freakin’ Choice” plan. Larry Bird and David Morway didn’t bat 1.000 on their first draft day, but decisions made on this day were both crucial and positive factors in turning the franchise around.

One alternate rumor in the days running up to the draft was JO to Cleveland for Anderson Varejao and the #19 pick (along with Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract). That would have been an intriguing move, as it’s possible the Pacers could have still landed Hibbert at #19. As with all things, one altered step spins the future in a different direction, and you are never sure whether that direction would be better or worse.

To be continued – With apologies, I will get 2009, 2010 and 2011 up as quickly as possible – hopefully before tonight’s draft – but real life intrudes. If worse comes to worst, we’ll be able to talk about what happened on Thursday, June 28, 2012, as well.

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Tags: Larry Bird What Does A Draft Pick Get You?

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