The Indiana Pacers Offseason, the anatomy of rebirth

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ORLANDO, FL – JULY 1: Myles Turner
ORLANDO, FL – JULY 1: Myles Turner /

Step 4. Stay competitive

This has been a sticking point for some Pacer fans, which is odd to me. Since 1990, Indiana has been to the playoffs 22 times, tied for second most in the NBA. Also during that time, Indiana has been a top four seed 10 times, eighth most. Sustaining that successful foundation should matter.

Sure some would argue that getting bounced from the first round isn’t the sign of a champion. But, Michael Jordan’s Bulls would disagree. As would Reggie Miller’s Pacers.

Those Pacers went to six Eastern Conference Finals between 1994 and 2004. The foundation for those runs was laid in the early 90’s when Indy snuck into the playoffs and got their butts kicked by Detroit (1990) and Boston (1992). Indy terrified the Celtics in 1991, then sent up a warning flare against New York in 1993.

Four first round exits. Four first round exits that provided invaluable experience for a young Pacers team that would go on to be the East’s number one contender for the better part of the next decade.

I suppose the other reason for objection is that being competitive means Indy won’t have any high lottery picks. That’s true.

But. I’ll offer you two points to consider.

1. Since 1987, Indiana has drafted seven all-stars: Reggie Miller (11th, 1987), Rik Smits (2nd, 1988), Antonio Davis (45th, 1990), Dale Davis (13th, 1991), Danny Granger (17th, 2005), Roy Hibbert (17th, 2008) and Paul George (10th, 2010). Only one came from inside the top ten.

But that’s a little misleading – even though the man who picked the first four, Donnie Walsh, is still with the team as an advisor- the draft was different in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Most of the players then were juniors or seniors. Each team received a more finished product than they do today, because…

2. The draft is more volatile since the one-and-done era began in 2007. Since 2007, five All-Stars have come from the first pick. Since 2007, five All-Stars have also come from the ninth pick. Since 2007 the same amount of All-Stars have been picked fifth as have been picked 35th (two). Since 2007, you have as good a chance selecting an All-Star picking between ninth and 11th (eight total) as you do picking in the top three (eight total). And you have a better chance at finding one picking between 15th and 19th (five) than you do fourth through eighth (four).

Next: Love/Hate Series: T.J. Leaf

This is what a rebirth looks like. Play hard, gain playoff experience and draft well. It has been done before, it can be done again.