For the Indiana Pacers and all 30 teams, the NBA Draft is a crapshoot in many instances.
Some teams with stronger scouting departments are better at it than others, but with so many variables at play for each and every prospect, it can be difficult to consistently make the right decisions on draft night. Every team has gotten a pick or two wrong over the years.
Add to the variables the fact that the fortunes of a player’s career are often determined in part by the match of a system to his skill set and the right playing opportunities presenting themselves, it’s easy to see why so many draft picks can be marked as “wrong” years down the line for any teams.
I wanted to look back at the Pacers last 10 years of draft picks and see, in retrospect, exactly where they made the right and wrong choices.
Some of these selections the Pacers would not change today, even if they ended up being the wrong pick in retrospect. Each pick, if adjusted, would drastically change the way things panned out for the Pacers. Some of them were heavily circumstantial as well.
Playing god with trying to rewrite history is like trying to pull out the most challenging Jenga stick from the bottom of the pile, and expecting the top to remain.
Butterfly effects ripple throughout a team’s history, and even some of these incorrect picks had positive outcomes, even if not directly with that particular prospect.
The Indiana Pacers made all the right choices in 2010
First-round selection: Paul George (CORRECT)
Available: Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley
Second-round selection: Lance Stephenson, Ryan Reid (CORRECT)
Available: None notable
Though this year’s draft leaves a sour taste in our mouths because of the way the Paul George
era ended for the Indiana Pacers, there’s no denying that the Pacers made the right selection here, regardless of how his time in Indy ended.
Paul George would go on to lead the team deep into the Eastern Conference Playoffs for years. These PG-led teams would compete closely with LeBron James-led Miami Heat teams.
The fact that the Pacers also picked up Lance Stephenson in this year’s draft, who was an impactful enforcer for the Pacers throughout those years, makes this one of the best draft years in recent history.
As a Pacer, George would average 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game before requesting a trade that launched the Pacers into a new era with Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Thanks, PG.
Lance Stephenson averaged 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists with the Pacers.
Should have selected: Paul George and Lance Stephenson
The 2011 NBA Draft was an incorrect trade for the Pacers
First-round selection: Kawhi Leonard (trade to Spurs agreed upon in principle) [WRONG]
Available: Jimmy Butler
Second-round selection: Davis Bertans (trade to Spurs agreed upon in principle)
Available: None notable
Ugh. OK, let’s get this one out of the way.
No, technically this wasn’t the Pacers selection in 2011, as they were making the pick for the Spurs based on the conditions of a trade that would later be made official to bring George Hill to the Pacers.
Regardless of how the pick went down, the Pacers got this wrong. They should have kept the pick and selected Leonard or Jimmy Butler, who actually would be a shockingly good fit culturally with the Pacers.
The second round was rather thin on talent in 2011, but Davis Bertans would have been a nice pick, as he’s lighting it up from the 3-point zone these days. He was also included in the trade with the Spurs.