The Indiana Pacers have had some of the most physically imposing players in NBA history on their team over the years. Here are the 10 best centers in team history.
The big man. Perhaps a forgotten art in today’s NBA, the Indiana Pacers have doubled down in their starting lineup with size, running a frontcourt duo of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis for the 2019-20 season.
Tall ball is often looked at as the zig to the NBA’s zag. While most of the league goes small and relies on quickness and shooting, imposing your will physically and getting a bucket at the rim still figures to have a place in today’s game, at least the Pacers hope.
Especially in the 80s and 90s, size was everything. If you were tall, had some muscle, and you had any semblance of footwork, you could really do some damage.
Over the years, the Pacers have had their fair share of big men that have come in and impacted the franchise. From the ABA up until now, who are the 10 best centers in franchise history?
We’re going to find out.
Jeff Foster spent his entire playing career with the Indiana Pacers, though he was technically drafted by the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State would trade his rights to the Pacers for a player and a future first-round pick.
In his rookie season, Foster spent most of his time observing and learning from the Pacers highly competitive big men. Indiana would win the Eastern Conference Championship that year and go on to face Shaquille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dale Davis would take up most of the team’s starts at the five in 2000, and Rik Smits would back him up in his final year. After Smits retired, Foster was given an increased role, playing 71 games and starting 9 in his sophomore season.
By his third year, Foster would slide into a starting role, appearing in all 82 of the team’s games and starting in just short of 50. For the remainder of his career, Foster was usually the team’s starting center, save for the 2003 season where Brad Miller took over the starting duties.
Foster and Jermaine O’Neal would most often man the five for the Pacers in the early 2000s. Throughout his 12-year career with Indiana, Foster logged 47.5 win shares and averaged 4.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks per game.
Foster was never a double-double player, but was extremely consistent for the Pacers for well over a decade.
Lingering back issues would force Foster to retire in 2012. He’s the mark of a really solid player that falls short of the upper pantheon. Players of his caliber these days would likely become journeymen, that of the Richaun Holmes or Nerlens Noel variety, but Foster was able to carve out a really lengthy and respectable career with the Pacers.