With a whopping 87% certainty, the Indiana Pacers surprised no one when they ended up with the 10th overall pick in the next NBA draft lottery.
Let's face it -- no matter what Larry Bird says about how great the 10th pick is, we all know that the Pacers could have done a lot better had it not been for that silly winning streak the team embarked on towards the end of the season.
Case in point -- the No. 1 pick went to the Washington Wizards, who had the 5th best odds of winning the lottery. Do I need to remind Pacers fans that for a stretch of the second half of the season, the Pacers were in line to be in that position (or even better?). Sigh...
Complete lottery results below:
||8. LA Clippers
|3. New Jersey
||11. New Orleans
|6. Golden State
|* -- From New York via Phoenix
Now, instead of dreaming of John Wall and Evan Turner, or even DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson or Derrick Favors, the Pacers are stuck with a disappointing pick. It's not the end of the world because there are always a few surprises in the draft, and perhaps the Pacers will get lucky this year like they did in 2005 when they drafted Danny Granger at 17th. But I cannot help wondering what might have been.
The focus now shifts to who the Pacers will draft with the 10th overall pick. Most mock drafts have the portion of the draft stacked with athletic big men such as Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Ekpe Udoh (Baylor), Donatas Montiejuanas (Lithuania), Greg Monroe (Georgetown), Ed Davis (North Carolina) and Hassan Whiteside (Marshall). However, what the Pacers really need is a solid point guard, and after John Wall, there aren't exactly a lot out there. The second best PG in the draft may be Wall's back up in Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe, but few have Bledsoe going as high as the 10th pick.
Would the Pacers be better off trading down or packaging the pick for a point guard? According to Pacers.com, Devin Harris may be available. Put Harris and Granger together and you might have a pretty decent team, even though both men took a step back last season.
The Pacers also have a couple of second round picks this year (provided Dallas surrenders their pick from the Shawne Williams trade -- at least that was a smart move), but no one is expecting miracles out of a second round pick. If the Pacers can get a couple of players with those picks who are anywhere near as good as AJ Price was for them last season (though let's not carried away, he's never going to be a star), then I would consider them highly successful picks.
Hopefully, the Pacers can get a quality PG through trading the pick, or strike gold with the 10th pick, as unlikely as that is. I'd much prefer it if they somehow managed to get Harris for the pick and some expiring contract (please let it be TJ Ford!).
Imagine a starting unit with:
PG Devin Harris (who has a career revival)
SG Brandon Rush (who suddenly wakes up and becomes a solid, consistent player)
SF: Danny Granger (who has a career revival)
PF: Troy Murphy (who suddenly learns how to defend)
C: Roy Hibbert (who continues to improve and no longer fouls every chance he gets)
Then on the bench you have: AJ Price (PG), Dahntay Jones (SG/SF), Mike Dunleavy Jr (SG/SF), Tyler Hansbrough (PF), Josh McRoberts (PF/C), Jeff Foster (PF/C), Solomon Jones (PF/C), and hopefully not TJ Ford (packaged in the Harris deal -- their salaries even match!).
That's a decent playoff team, isn't it?