#9. 2009 NBA Draft
- Selected Tyler Hansborough (#13)
- Selected A. J. Price (#52)
Remember the part about not blowing lottery picks? Yeah, this was that.
The Pacers were in dire need of a talent injection and had a good pick in a point-guard loaded draft. Wouldn´t you know it, that was the exact position they needed to fill.
T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack were both sharing duties at the spot the year before, and each did an OK job of filling in as a stop-gap player on what was essentially a stop-gap roster to keep the team from falling below 30 wins.
But everyone in the front office should have known that the Mike Dunleavy/Troy Murphy era was near its end and that it was time to build the future foundation.
They could have taken Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, or Darren Collison to add the playmaker they so badly needed alongside Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert.
Instead, they went with Tyler Hansbrough, a known low-upside guy with a workman-like approach to the game. It was obvious pandering to a fanbase who was sick and tired of cheering for troublemakers.
For his part, Hansbrough played a solid role on the team for many seasons to come. He worked his tail off and maximized his ability to thrive on the professional level.
Still, he wasn´t what the team needed at the time — in a basketball sense — and the front office knew it. And if they didn´t, they should have.
And while the team´s image did start to recover somewhat around this time in an intangible way, there were no spikes of fan support. The team maintained some of the lowest attendance in the NBA until this past season.
As for the A.J. Price pick, it was actually a nice little selection.
He was never a showstopper, but he gave Indiana (and later Washington) some adequate minutes. And getting a capable fringe-backup-level point guard after pick 50 is an accomplishment.
Price was also, a bit like Shawne Williams, a reclamation project. He had run into controversy at UConn (for stealing computers) so some GMs were leery. As is his wont, Bird decided to let talent supercede the potential problems.
Obviously, employing A.J. Price won´t be some great achievement in the history of the Pacers, but him coming in and being a great teammate and adequate performer may have subtlely helped Bird stick with his tendency to draft problem kids.
Having this minor success in that area, after swinging and mising on Williams and David Harrison, may have helped sway him to gamble again in a few years with Lance Stephenson.