The Indiana Pacers have had their fair share of superstars in their ranks. However, they just can’t seem to be able to get over the hump and go from a dark horse to a truly, perennial contending team. In fact, they haven’t even been to the NBA Finals in almost two decades.
Part of their struggles come from being a small market team. Let’s be honest here, not many superstars want to go to the Pacers when they can join powerhouses like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and even the New York Knicks.
That’s why drafting is so important for a team like the Pacers, and while they’ve done a solid job at scouting talent, they’ve failed to hold on to it more often than not. Today, we’ll show you the solid lineup they could have if they kept the players they drafted.
PG – Lance Stephenson
(40th pick – 2010 NBA Draft)
While you could argue that this spot should be for Aaron Holiday instead of Lance Stephenson, who’s not even in the league anymore, there’s no denying that Stephenson was a cornerstone of the Indiana Pacers’ success during Frank Vogel’s tenure in charge of the team.
Stephenson was the heart and soul of the Pacers’ pesky defense. He got into their rivals’ faces, and could do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor, from running the point to guarding multiple positions. He was never the same after he left the team.
SG – Paul George
(10th pick – 2010 NBA Draft)
The Indiana Pacers took Paul George out of Fresno State with the 10th overall pick to compliment Danny Granger, who was the team’s leading scorer at the time. George was eased into NBA action until Granger fell with an injury and he was asked to step up.
The rest, as you know, is history. Paul George end up becoming one of the best two-way players in the league and the Pacers’ go-to-guy for years. Sadly, their struggles in the playoffs frustated him up to the point where he forced his way out of the team.
SF – Kawhi Leonard
(15h pick – 2011 NBA Draft)
You can make a strong case for Kawhi Leonard being the biggest mistake in Indiana Pacers’ history. Even though no one ever thought he’d end up becoming a two-time Finals MVP and the best two-way player on earth, trading him for George Hill now looks like a bad idea.
Obviously, Hill was already a veteran in the league and was a better fit for their timeline, but you just can’t help but to imagine what could have been if Leonard had stayed with the Pacers. Then again, perhaps he’d never blossom without Gregg Popovich’s tutelage.
PF – Myles Turner
(11th pick – 2015 NBA Draft)
Myles Turner looked like the real deal coming out of Texas University. The Indiana Pacers took him 11th overall thanks to his ability to defend the perimeter, knock down shots from all three levels, and alter shots as an elite rim protector.
While Turner is yet to break out as the superstar he’s capable of being, the Pacers found a building block on him. Even if they end up trading him as rumored, his youth and expertise on both ends of the floor could grant them a lot of valuable assets in return.
C – Miles Plumlee
(26th pick – 2012 NBA Draft)
The Indiana Pacers took Miles Plumlee – a Fort Wayne native – out of Duke University with the 26th overall pick. However, he spent most of his minutes in the Development League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and was out of the team after just one season.
Plumlee ended up becoming a solid backup big man thanks to his ability to set screens and defend in the pick-and-roll. Even though he’s not much of a dominant big, he can do all the little things you’d ask from your substitute center.