#7. 2011 NBA Draft
- Acquired George Hill from San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard (#15), Davis Bertrans (#42) and the rights to Erazem Lorbek
Here we have the most controversial and awful-looking draft of the bunch. You could easily call this the worst draft of the past decade if you just look at the 2014 outcome.
¨What? The Pacers traded a future Finals MVP for George Hill? AHHHHHHHHHHHHH.¨
It sounds bad in those terms and no Pacer fan could watch this year´s Finals without a bit of regret. I´m sure that applies to Larry Bird as well.
There is a large element of revisionist history at play in that outlook, however.
Before the 2011 Summer, the Pacers lost to the MVP-having Chicago Bulls in a gritty first-round series. It was Paul George´s defensive coming-out party and it was becoming apparent that the future of the team would depend on he and Roy Hibbert´s development alongside Danny Granger.
What they needed were some ancillary pieces to help them reach their potential. And while adding another prospect to the mix could be helpful, there was a sense that the team had enough young, inexperienced players. To not become the Wizards, they needed some leadership and impact players who had been around the block.
David West, who they would acquire in free agency that summer was the biggest piece of the puzzle. But George Hill — a young player who already had deep-playoff experience playing for a franchise that is the league´s model of professionalism — was the other key cog.
The two of them coming over changed the culture in a way that isn´t just Pacers.com marketing. The team was immature at the time, and these two were both pros´pros. More than anything, they were adults.
As the team lost valiantly against the Heat in the playoffs the next two years in the playoffs, the course change and maturity-building that began that summer was inseparable from the success.
Would it have been better to pick Kawhi and hope his silent approach to locker room life would have had a different, yet similarly positive effect while he and Paul George evolved into the wing-defense tandem of every coach´s dreams?
Almost certainly, yes.
But there is a butterfly effect with these Pacers — not to mention Kawhi´s development under Gregg Popovich — that you can´t ignore when calling this an awful trade through a 2014 lens.