2008-2009 Finish: 36-46
2009 Draft Picks: 13th, 52nd
Pre-Draft 2009-10 Projected Starters:
PG: T.J. Ford
SG: Brandon Rush
SF: Danny Granger
PF: Troy Murphy
C: Roy Hibbert
G: Jarrett Jack
GF: Mike Dunleavy (upon return)
C: Jeff Foster
What The Pacers Do Well:
The Pacers just missed the playoffs for the third straight season, and were really only very good at one thing Ė scoring. The averaged 105.1 points per game, fifth in the NBA, behind the Suns, Warriors, Lakers and Knicks. I donít think itís a coincidence that four of the top-five scoring clubs missed the postseason this spring.
Like Phoenix, Golden State and New York, Indiana had trouble stopping opponents. They allowed the opposing team to score 106.2 points; the prime reason why they finished 36-46 for the second year in a row.
They ranked second in the league in rebounding, but, in a growing theme, allowed opponents to clean the glass even more frequently. Only the Knicks and Warriors (yeah, them again) allowed opposing teams to accumulate more rebounds this season.
Indiana ranked in the top-ten in both three-point and foul shooting, but overall they shot just 45.5% from the field (19th in the league).
They competed almost every night, which wasnít reflected in their overall record, but is when you consider the astounding 21 games they participated in that were decided by three points or less. Only the Spurs (19) came close, and Indiana was just 9-12 in such contests.
They failed to win more than three games in a row (once in early November), and had losing streaks of four and five (twice) over the course of the season.
Greatest Areas Of Improvement:
A Defensive Presence
As mentioned above, the Pacers were among the worst defensive teams in the league this past season. Danny Granger is a strong defender, but a lot of his energy is expended on the offense end. Brandon Rush is serviceable, and hopefully improving, as a defender, which places a majority of the focus on the interior.
Troy Murphy had an All-Star caliber season offensively, but is a sub-par defender. Jeff Foster is an above-average defender, but he isnít (and never really was) athletic enough to handle todayís version of an NBA center. I do believe that Roy Hibbert will become a reliable option at center, but that might be another season away. Adding an intimating force in the paint would greatly improve Indianaís all-around defense.
The Pacers donít expect Mike Dunleavy to take the court before 2010, which means that they must address his absence. Retaining Marquis Daniels, via the team option for 2009-10 on his contract, would address that, but they still havenít made a decision. They have until the end of June, but, internally at least, the decision will be made prior to the draft. If they donít exercise Danielsí option, a wing player could be an option, perhaps in the second round.
Whoís Gone Number 13 Recently?
The 13th pick has been rather unlucky as of late, with no true difference-makers found in recent years. Rush and Sefolosha are probably the best of the lot below, while Wright, May and Telfair have been viewed as disappointments (to varying degrees). The Pacers do, however, have a history of finds studs in the middle of the draft.
Brandon Rush, Portland (to Indiana)
Julian Wright, New Orleans
Thabo Sefolosha, Philadelphia
Sean May, Charlotte
Sebastian Telfair, Portland
Who Should The Pacers Target?
- DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh
Blair gives the Pacers exactly what they need, and is a good bet to be called 13th next Thursday assuming Indiana isnít worried about his knees or weight. He isnít the size of your typical power forward, but heís rough and tough enough to make a difference for the Pacers.
-Jeff Teague of Wake Forest
The Pacers arenít necessarily in the market for a point guard, unless they unexpectedly allow Jarrett Jack to leave as a restricted free agent, but Teague is a great fit for Jim OíBrienís offense. He makes good decisions off the dribble, something that is imperative for a passer in their fast system.
- BJ Mullens of Ohio State
Indiana seemed to like Mullens following his recent visit to Indianapolis, but taking Mullens would mean selecting centers that need seasoning in back-to-back years. With that said, heís more agile and athletic than Roy Hibbert, aspects that hampered the former Hoya in his rookie season.
Picks Over the Past Five Years
Aside from way back in 1990 (Antonio Davis), the Pacers have never been very good at finding talent in the second round of the draft. They have, however, drafted relatively well at varying spots in the first round. They turned Bayless into Rush, and Danny Granger has turned into a huge steal. Williams should be held accountable for his own bust status, while Harrisonís status overseas indicates how well he fared.
Jerryd Bayless, 11th (to Portland)
Nathan Jawai, 41st (to Toronto)
Shawne Williams, 17th
Alexander Johnson, 45th (to Portland)
Danny Granger, 17th
Erazem Lorabek, 46th
David Harrison, 29th
Rashad Wright, 59th
Who Do the Fans Want?
According to Andrew Pernaís Indiana Pacers Lottery Summit, an interactive forum featuring the responses of true RealGM hoops fans hoping to add their two cents to the Pacers Draft discussion, the fans of Indiana have made it known that they would like to draft a power forward with strong defense.
1. What could the team have done differently to make the playoffs?
Boneman2: I think the loss of Mike Dunleavy, coupled with all the new faces, we were bound to slip a fair amount. I was actually pleased with the teamís mentality and hustle. It could have been much worse.
PR07: They could've played better defense night-in and night-out. However, despite their defensive deficiencies, they were in a lot of ball games, but simply lacked the killer instinct to finish off teams in the fourth quarter.
chatard5: If they played better defense.
PaceWalker: If we played better defense and learned how to close out games. So many games were decided by a few points.
Miller4Ever: The final lineup was very different from the one that started the year. Hindsight is 20/20, but they could have played better defense, specifically when looking at matchups. Several times Jarrett Jack had to face someone with a significant size advantage, and the players in the post fouled too much.
PacerPerspective: The simple answer is just a few more W's, especially against the Bulls. When Chicago swung those midseason deals, they were out of it.
fredjones20: Better defense, and the ability to keep leads.
2. Where were the teamís biggest strengths?
Boneman2: Our biggest strength seemed to be our character, especially in the community.
PR07: Chemistry. This is a group of guys that really seem to like each other on and off the court. The chemistry shows on the court as the guys are more than willing to pass the ball to get someone the best look possible. I'd also say scoring; almost every guy on this roster is capable of putting up double-digit scoring on any given night.
chatard5: We can score very well.
PaceWalker: Obviously, the All-Star season for Danny Granger was the best thing, as well as the development of the rookies. Scoring was our biggest strength in general, and our chemistry as a team.
Miller4Ever: Offense, obviously. We had a high-scoring offense with accurate three-point shooting from Murphy and others.
PacerPerspective: For the first time in a long time, they had good chemistry. They can also score the basketball, and at times, rebound.
fredjones20: Scoring and rebounding.
3. Who had a surprisingly effective season?
Boneman2: I think Jack proved himself this season. I know Murphy did a surprisingly good job, but he has always been a double -double guy. He just returned to form.
PR07: Murphy. If you look past his contract, you will see a consistent double-double machine, and probably one of the better power forward's in the league. His low-post defense leaves something to be desired, but he's exceptional on the glass and really perfected his outside game.
chatard5: Murphy played great. I knew he could rebound a little bit and shoot the long-ball; I just didn't know he could do each of them so well. He was a double-double machine.
PaceWalker: Both rookies, Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert, progressed well. I was happy with how Jack played in the second half of the season as well.
Miller4Ever: Murphy comes to mind immediately. He stepped up his game and became a better part of the Pacers. Jack also had a great year, proving that he could man the point, wresting that position from the "all-star caliber" T.J. Ford. Jamaal Tinsley gets an honorable mention here.
PacerPerspective: I thought Murphy played up to his contract this season. Larry Bird predicted he would, but I wasn't as confident.
fredjones20: I hate to say it, but Murphy.
4. Who had a surprisingly ineffective season?
Boneman2: I expected more production from both Rasho Nesterovic and Jeff Foster.
PR07: Nesterovic. He had such a low impact on the team; I often forgot he was even on the roster. He never really seemed to stand out in any regard on the court, and his spot on the depth chart was given to Hibbert, who took it and never looked back. I think he realized that he was simply an expiring contract to the Pacers, with no long-term future.
chatard5: Obviously, Dunleavy being hurt didn't help the team at all. You can't be effective when you aren't playing.
PaceWalker: I expected a lot more out of Rasho, and more consistency from Ford.
Miller4Ever: Dunleavy was supposed to be part of a 1-2 punch that never happened, but it wasn't his fault. Besides Granger, everyone had bad stretches and good stretches. No one was really consistent through the year.
PacerPerspective: I expected Hibbert to be more of a factor, but I forgot to realize it takes time for big men to develop.
fredjones20: I thought everyone played to their potential, but I would have liked to see T.J. play better.
5. How confident are you in the front office heading into the offseason?
Boneman2: I still have confidence in the front office, especially after last seasonís flurry of moves seemed to position us nicely for the present and future.
PR07: Pretty confident. We have a nice young core in Granger, Ford, Rush, Hibbert, and perhaps Jack. If the team can add to that core with our draft picks, the future is really starting to look up for this franchise.
chatard5: I am pretty confident in the front office. I wasn't too happy with the acquisition of Rush after we drafted Bayless, but he looked good, so my confidence is growing.
PaceWalker: Very confident. After last offseason and the confidence I have for the future, I believe Bird and David Morway are on the right track with the team.
Miller4Ever: I have a few doubts, but they make good decisions overall. They may not make a genius pick like with Granger again, but they will get players who can help improve our team.
PacerPerspective: I'm very confident. Bird and Morway have proven that they won't give up the future to win now, which is tempting considering how weak the bottom of the Eastern Conference has been.
fredjones20: 60%; with Bird you never know.
6. What are the teamís biggest needs in the draft?
Boneman2: We need an interior presence at both ends, but the pickings are slim-to-none. A point guard to develop wouldn't hurt.
PR07: An interior presence that can mix it up in the middle, whether that be a power forward or center. Depth at shooting guard is a cause for concern with Dunleavy's uncertainty, and the team could stand to upgrade the point guard spot.
chatard5: We need defense, anywhere and everywhere. I would say a big man that can play defense, probably a power forward.
PaceWalker: We need a athletic and defensive minded power forward that isn't afraid to bang around down low.
Miller4Ever: Athleticism, especially in the post and at the point guard spot. The Pacers just need people fast and big enough to play man-to-man defense.
PacerPerspective: A power forward, or anyone that can bring a defensive mentality to his position.
fredjones20: We need a power forward more than anything else.
7. Who would you like the Pacers to take with the 13th pick?
Boneman2: I am back-and-forth with this, but I think DeJuan Blair could have an immediate impact.
chatard5: I want Eric Maynor, if nobody unexpectedly slips. I think we can then try and trade Ford and re-sign Jack. Then there is no question about the starting point guard. Hopefully, in a couple of years Maynor turns out to be a good player and can start.
PaceWalker: I think the Pacers will choose Maynor at 13. I'm really not super-intrigued with anyone projected around the pick, but I think Maynor should have a solid NBA career.
Miller4Ever: The best player available. Blair can come right in and give us some things we need, but a better pick would be Maynor, and if he's around, Jrue Holiday.
PacerPerspective: There have been rumors that Jordan Hill could slide out of the top-10, and I'd love to get him. More than likely though, someone like Blair or B.J. Mullens.
fredjones20: Jeff Teague or Earl Clark.