The Indiana Pacers joined the league in 1967 as a member of the American Basketball Association and were the kings of the ABA for quite some time. The team won three ABA championships in 1970, 1972, and 1973. A few years later, the team joined the NBA during the merger and had little success in the following 20 years. The team eventually contended for their first divisional title in 1995 before enjoying some success in the early 2000s. That included their first and only trip to the NBA Finals in 2000.
The Pacers nearly made it back to the NBA Finals in 2004, 2013, and 2014 but came up short in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s almost been 10 years since the Pacers were at that level again. Among the all-time greatest Pacers, the team has six Hall of Famers to their name that played either in the ABA or NBA. Along with five retired numbers, the Pacers have enjoyed some great shooters in their lifetime, including one of the greatest to ever shoot from outside.
These are the 10 greatest players in Indiana Pacers history.
Years in Indiana: 11 (1984-1995)
Indiana: 11.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Career: 11.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Fleming’s career featured just two professional franchises, and 11 of those years were given to the Pacers. Fleming became the 18th overall pick in the 1984 draft and was a mainstay with the Pacers. He was the team’s starting point guard but sometimes shared his duties with Haywoode Workman and Mark Jackson. In 1990, he started all 82 games and averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 assists.
Among the career records, Fleming’s name is everywhere. He played the third-most games (816) and third-most minutes (22,874) and made the fifth-most shots (3,737). For a time, he was the career leader in assists with 4,038 but ranks second, while he is also third in career steals (885). Fleming’s 9,535 career points rank eighth all-time.
Years in Indiana: 9 (2005-2014)
Indiana: 17.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Career: 16.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Honors: All-Star (2009), Most Improved Player (2009), All-Rookie Second Team (2006)
The best years of Granger’s career were with the Pacers. The No. 17 overall pick in 2005 grew into an All-Star shooter with the Pacers. During this time, Granger was the team’s best offensive player and eventually won the Most Improved Player of the Year. During the 2008-09 season, he became the first player in history to raise his scoring average by at least five points per game in three consecutive seasons. His 25.8 points per game were the second-highest average by a player in team history.
Granger’s 964 three-point field goals rank second in team history. Granger also ranks eighth in free throws, steals, and blocks. The 9,571 career points rank sixth all-time. While his team's success was not combined with his success, Granger should be mentioned for his success alone, where he also ranks eighth in offensive win shares and total win shares.
Years in Indiana: 6 (1986-1992)
Indiana: 19.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Career: 14.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: Rookie of the Year (1987), All-Rookie First Team (1987)
For a player that does not rank in the top 10 for games played or minutes, it should be noted that Person was one of the most efficient scorers in team history. Person ranks fourth in field goals (3,762). He also broke the top 10 in assists as well. While he never made an All-Star Game, he owns one of the best rookie seasons ever in Indiana history.
The Pacers selected Person with the No. 4 overall pick in 1986. He won the Rookie of the Year Award when he averaged 18.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals. He grew the nickname “The Rifleman” due to his three-point shooting. The 466 three-point field goals Person made during his six seasons rank sixth.
Years in Indiana: 5 (1988-1993)
Indiana: 17.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career: 13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: All-Star (1993), 2x Sixth Man of the Year (1991, 1992)
Before Domantas Sabonis recorded a team-record 18 triple-doubles, Schrempf was the record holder of triple-doubles with six. He ranks in the top 10 in offensive win shares despite playing in five seasons. Schrempf began his career with the Dallas Mavericks but was traded to the Pacers, where he won two consecutive Sixth Man of the Year Awards.
During that time, he averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds and shot 37.5% from three-point range. Then, he averaged 17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, and shot 53.6% from the field. The 1992-93 season saw him work his way into the starting lineup, where he started 60 of 82 games and became an All-Star. He finished the year averaging 19.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and played a career-high 37.8 minutes per game.
Years in Indiana: 8 (1974-1977, 1979-1983)
Indiana: 18.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Career: 16.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: All-Star (1977), ABA All-Star (1976), All-ABA First Team (1976), ABA All-Rookie First Team (1975)
Knight was one of the few players that made a smooth transition to the NBA from the ABA. Knight was always a consistent player for the Pacers, but he enjoyed an All-Rookie ABA season in his first year. He followed that by making the All-ABA First Team his second season and the All-Star team. After the two leagues merged, Knight became an All-Star in the NBA.
Among the career leaders, Knight worked his way into sixth in games played (585) and ninth in minutes (4,228). Before two other great scorers, Knight was the all-time leader in field goals (4,228), but he currently ranks third. Knight also ranks fourth in free throws and seventh in offensive rebounds and steals. Out of the four players with 10,000 career points, Knight ranks third with 10,780.
Years in Indiana: 12 (1988-2000)
Indiana: 14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Career: 14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Honors: All-Star (1998), All-Rookie First Team (1989)
The longtime running mate of the greatest Pacer in team history played his entire career with the Pacers. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Smits immediately made an impact by making the All-Rookie First Team, and he grew into an All-Star nine years later. Smits started 71 games in his rookie season and posted double-digit point totals many years later. His best season came in 1998 when he averaged 16. Points and 6.9 rebounds. Smits left the league after the Pacers made the NBA Finals in 2000.
In his 12-year career, Smits owns the second-most games, minutes, and field goals. He is also second in defensive rebounds (3,746) and third in total rebounds (5,277). His 1,111 blocks were the team record until it was broken a few years later. Smits owns 12,871 career points which rank second, while his 3,011 personal fouls are a team record.
Years in Indiana: 10 (1991-2000)
Indiana: 9.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Career: 8.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG
Honors: All-Star (2000)
While Smits was manning the center position, the team could use Davis to hold down the power forward position while occasionally working center if needed. Davis was the No. 13 overall pick by the Pacers in 1991. He held that position for 10 seasons and was an All-Star during his final year with the team. Davis owned one season where he averaged a double-double, and that was not his All-Star season when he came up short, averaging 10.0 points and 9.9 rebounds.
For his career, Davis piled on the games, minutes, and rebounds. Davis is fifth in games played and minutes. His 2,276 offensive rebounds remain a team record, while his 3,730 defensive rebounds are third. He is one of two players to own more than 6,000 total rebounds, as his 6,006 total boards are second in franchise history.
10. Don Buse
Years in Indiana: 7 (1972-1976, 1980-1982)
Indiana: 7.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.1 APG, 2.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career: 7.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: ABA Champion (1973), All-Star (1977), ABA All-Star (1976), All-ABA Second Team (1977), 4x All-Defensive First Team (1977-1980), 2x ABA All-Defensive First Team (1975, 1976), Assists Leader (1977), Steals Leader (1977)
During the team’s championship run in the ABA, Buse was the primary point guard. He was known for his dependable ball handling, defense, and clutch shooting. His best ABA season came when he led the league in assists and steals in 1975-76. When the team merged with the NBA, he was an All-Star for the second year in a row. He embarked on a four-year streak as an All-Defensive First Team player, where he also led the NBA in assists and steals in a season.
Buse retired as the leader in assists and steals but has since dropped. He ranks fifth in assists (2,737) and second in steals (1,177). He is one of two players in team history to own at least 1,000 steals with the Pacers. Buse’s 2.5 career average with the team is a team record, while he ranks fifth in value over a replacement player.
9. Metta Sandiford-Artest
Years in Indiana: 5 (2001-2006)
Indiana: 16.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Career: 13.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Honors: All-Star (2004), All-NBA Third Team (2004), Defensive Player of the Year (2004), 2x All-Defensive First Team (2004, 2006), All-Defensive Second Team (2003)
When looking at what Artest did in his career, you are talking about the greatest defensive player in team history. Artest owns the record for the highest defensive rating at 97.6. During his heyday, he was an All-Star and a Defensive Player of the Year. That included winning All-Defensive First Team in two of three seasons and making the All-Defensive squad in three of four years.
Artest’s career is unfortunately tied to the “Malice in the Palace” when the team erupted in a brawl in Detroit. However, Artest should be remembered as a fearless defender that took pride in his defensive abilities. Artest remains active in talking about mental health past his NBA career, so look past the fights, and look solely at how nobody wanted him guarding them.
8. Bob Netolicky
Years in Indiana: 8 (1967-1972, 1973-1976)
Indiana: 15.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career: 16.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Honors: 2x ABA Champion (1970, 1972), All-ABA Second Team (1970), 4x ABA All-Star (1968-1971), ABA All-Rookie Team (1968), All-ABA Team
In the first-ever ABA Draft, Netolicky was drafted by the Pacers. He would play in every season of the ABA. As a rookie, he averaged 16.3 points and 11.5 rebounds to make the All-Rookie Team. In his second season, he helped the Pacers win the Eastern Division championship. He averaged 18.9 points and 10.2 rebounds that season. The team made the ABA Finals before losing to the Oakland Oaks. The third season featured a championship run as the Pacers won 59 games. Netolicky averaged 20.6 points and 10.7 rebounds.
His last All-Star appearance featured the Pacers making the Division Finals in the playoffs before losing to the Utah Stars in seven games. However, he helped the team win their second ABA Championship in 1972. In the playoffs, he averaged 16.7 points and 9.3 rebounds against the Rockets. After this season, he was purchased by the Dallas Chaparrals before returning to the Pacers in 1973.
7. Freddie Lewis
Years in Indiana: 8 (1967-1974, 1976-1977)
Indiana: 16.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Career: 16.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 3x ABA Champion (1970, 1972, 1973), ABA Playoffs MVP (1972), 4x ABA All-Star (1968, 1970, 1972, 1975), ABA All-Star Game MVP (1975), ABA All-Time Team
After starting his career with the Cincinnati Royals, he spurred San Diego in the NBA expansion draft and joined the ABA. His legacy included helping the Pacers win three ABA titles. Lewis saw one of his best moments in 1972 when he scored 23 points in Game 7 against the Utah Stars in the semifinals, including the game-winning free throws in the final 24 seconds. Lewis won the ABA Playoffs MVP that season.
Lewis was a clutch guard that made multiple plays on how way to make four ABA All-Star appearances. With the Pacers, he ranks sixth in assists (2,279) and 10th in points (9,257). He was also durable, as he ranks sixth in minutes played and eighth in games. Considered an all-time professional for her sportsmanship and leadership, he is considered one of the best ABA players ever.
6. Paul George
Years in Indiana: 7 (2010-2017)
Indiana: 18.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career: 20.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Honors: 4x All-Star (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017), 3x All-NBA Third Team (2013, 2014, 2016), All-Defensive First Team (2014), 2x All-Defensive Second Team (2013, 2016), All-Rookie Second Team (2011), Most Improved Player (2013)
When George came into the league, he grew into a savior for the Pacers. It has been about 10 years since the Pacers were competitive at a high level. With a supporting cast of David West, George Hill, and Roy Hibbert, George was the constant that helped the Pacers rise to the top of the Eastern Conference in 2013 and 2014. Both times, LeBron James and the Heat denied the Pacers of making the NBA Finals, but without the All-Star swingman, the team would not have been in that position.
George’s 897 career three-pointers rank third on the all-time list. He was also a three-time All-Defensive player during his time, and he racked up the fifth-most steals. He remains sixth on the defensive win shares chart. Since George was traded to the Thunder, the Pacers have not come close to making a run in the East.
5. Jermaine O’Neal
Years in Indiana: 8 (2000-2008)
Indiana: 18.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.4 BPG
Career: 13.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.8 BPG
Honors: 6x All-Star (2002-2007), All-NBA Second Team (2004), 2x All-NBA Third Team (2002, 2003), Most Improved Player (2002)
O’Neal owns the most All-Star appearances among players that have played for the team. He also owns three All-NBA appearances, including his breakout campaign in 2000-01. O’Neal joined the team in the 2000 offseason after the team made the NBA Finals and led the league in total blocks by setting a franchise record with 228 for the season. He followed that with winning the Most Improved Player of the Year by leading the Pacers in scoring (19.0) and rebounding (10.5). O’Neal made the All-Star team each season between 2002 and 2007. That included being the team’s leader during the Conference Finals runs.
For his career, O’Neal finished eighth in minutes played despite not cracking the top 10 in games played. He also made the eighth most field goals (3,654), sixth most free throws (2,258) and rebounds (4,933), and the fourth most defensive rebounds (3,679). He ranks fifth in career points with 9,580 but holds one team record with 2.4 blocks per game average.
4. Roger Brown
Years in Indiana: 8 (1967-1974, 1975)
Indiana: 18.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Career: 17.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Honors: 3x ABA Champion (1970, 1972, 1973), ABA Playoffs MVP (1970), 4x ABA All-Star (1968, 1970-1972), All-ABA First Team (1971), 2x All-ABA Second Team (1968, 1970), ABA All-Time Team, No. 35 retired by Pacers
Brown was the first player that the Pacers signed with the organization and became a part of the ABA. It was Brown that set the original franchise record for points in a game with 46 during the 1968-69 season. During the playoffs, he averaged 25.6 points per game, but the team fell short of a title. The following year, he was named the Playoffs MPV when he averaged 28.5 points, including 45 points in Game 6 of the ABA Finals. On his way to winning two more titles, he would make the All-Star team and All-ABA First Team.
While Brown never played in the NBA, there is no denying that he is one of the best Pacers ever, as evidenced by his No. 35 retired. Brown ranks in the top 10 in games, minutes, and field goals. His 2,380 made free throws are the third most. His 10,058 career points are the fourth-most in team history, and he is second in offensive and total win shares to only the greatest Pacer ever.
3. George McGinnis
Years in Indiana: 7 (1971-1975, 1980-1982)
Indiana: 19.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Career: 20.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Honors: 2x ABA Champion (1972, 1973), ABA Playoffs MVP (1973), ABA MVP (1975), 3x ABA All-Star (1973-1975), 2x All-ABA First Team (1974, 1975), All-ABA Second Team (1973), ABA All-Rookie First Team (1972), ABA Scoring Champion (1975), ABA All-Time Team, No. 30 retired by Pacers
One of the all-time greats from the ABA run, McGinnis was a key player during their back-to-back championships in the ABA. That included winning the ABA Playoffs MVP in 1973, when he averaged 23.9 points and 12.3 rebounds in 18 playoff games. His best season came when he averaged 29.8 points per game on his way to winning the league MVP. McGinnis joined the 76ers right before the league merged and did not join the Pacers in the NBA until his later seasons.
McGinnis was such a skilled scorer that he ranks in the top 10 for field goals and free throws despite not playing the 10th most games or minutes. He was also a skilled rebounder, where his 1,887 offensive rebounds are the fourth most. His 3,332 defensive rebounds (sixth) and 5,219 total rebounds are fifth. With that, he added 752 steals to rank fourth, while his 9,545 career points are seventh.
2. Mel Daniels
Years in Indiana: 6 (1968-1974)
Indiana: 19.4 PPG, 16.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.6 BPG
Career: 18.4 PPG, 14.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.5 BPG
Honors: 3x ABA Champion (1970, 1972, 1973), 2x ABA MVP (1969, 1971), 7x ABA All-Star (1968-1971), ABA All-Star Game MVP (1969), 4x All-ABA First Team (1968-1971), All-ABA Second Team (1973), ABA Rookie of the Year (1968), ABA All-Rookie First Team (1968), 3x ABA Rebounding Champion (1968, 1969, 1971), ABA All-Time Team, No. 34 retired by Pacers
Daniel was good enough to join the NBA. He was the No. 9 overall pick in the 1967 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals and could have played alongside Oscar Robertson. Instead, he was dejected from the NBA and joined the ABA, where he was a three-time ABA champion and received more money from the Minnesota Muskies. He joined the Pacers in 1968 and was named the ABA MVP in his first season. Daniels averaged 19.3 points and 17.7 rebounds in the playoffs when the team won their first title in 1970. He won the league rebounding title three times and is regarded as one of the greatest players to play in the ABA.
Despite playing six seasons, Daniels still owns the most defensive rebounds (5,461) and total rebounds (7,643). This margin is so wide, by over 1,000 total rebounds in both, that it will take a true rebounding specialist to break it. His 2,182 offensive rebounds were narrowly beaten by Dale Davis, who he ranks second. Daniels owns the team record for minutes per game (37.1) and rebounds (16.0).
1. Reggie Miller
Years in Indiana: 18 (1987-2005)
Indiana: 18.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Career: 18.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Star (1990, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000), 3x All-NBA Third Team (1995, 1996, 1998), 50-40-90 Club (1994), No. 31 retired by Pacers
In 18 seasons, Miller spent his entire professional basketball career with the Pacers. When Miller left the league, he was regarded as the greatest three-point shooting player in NBA history. The 2,560 three-point shots made by Miller is a Pacers team record. Miller was the best player on the 2000 team that made the NBA Finals, but we often forget about how great those 90s teams were because of the bulldozer that was the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
For the franchise, Miller is the career record holder in games (1,389), minutes (47,619), field goals (8,241), two-point field goals (5,681), free throws (6,237), and the attempts for all of those shot selections. He also holds the record for assists (4,141), steals (1,505), points (25,279), offensive rating (121.5), offensive win shares (140.4), defensive win shares (34.0), total win shares (174.4), and value over a replacement (66.1).