Where Are Indiana Pacers' Top Draft Picks from Past 5 Years Now?
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Have you ever wondered where the Indiana Pacers' top draft picks from the last five years are?
Sure, Paul George and Lance Stephenson have made a lot of noise with the current Indiana lineup. No question about it, they will help the team make another championship run in 2013-14.
But what about past draftees such as Jerryd Bayless and Kawhi Leonard?
Isn't the thought of what might have been had they sported Pacers blue and gold today intriguing?
A short rundown of these recent draft picks should also give Indiana fans an idea of how good a job management has been doing in years past.
Judging by the team's memorable playoff run in 2012-13 alone, it's nothing short of fantastic.
Jerryd Bayless, University of Arizona, 2008 1st Round (11th overall)
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Jerryd Bayless was an intriguing draft prospect out of Arizona in 2008.
However, the Pacers traded his rights along with center Ike Diogu to the Portland Trail Blazers for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and the 13th overall pick of that year which turned out to be Brandon Rush.
Bayless spent two somewhat forgettable seasons in Portland and played just 11 games with the then-New Orleans Hornets in the 2010-11 NBA season before being shipped to Toronto in the five-player trade that sent Jarrett Jack to the Hornets.
In hindsight, his underdeveloped game (he was just coming off his freshman season in Arizona when he got drafted) played a role in the slow start to his NBA career.
With Conley, Jr. as the bona fide starter, it's anybody's guess if can ever become a starting point guard in this league.
Tyler Hansbrough, University of North Carolina, 2009 1st Round (13th Overall)
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Roy Hibbert wasn't the rim protector he was in 2009-10.
Having said this, Indiana's frontcourt rotation of Jeff Foster, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Solomon Jones wasn't exactly the most imposing.
Enter Tyler Hansbrough.
Hansbrough was known for his toughness, tenaciousness and grit. Some may not even remember he's the North Carolina Tar Heels' all-time leading scorer and a three-time first-team All-American.
Mark Montieth of the Pacers' official website sums up Hansbrough's game during his career with Indiana quite nicely.
Fans appreciate Hansbrough's reckless style of play, but his game is limited. He tends to stray from the offense with his kamikaze attacks on the basket, he rarely picks up an assist and his defense is limited. He would easily qualify as a starter if he could hit mid-range jump shots, but he made only 30 percent of those this season.
Which he actually is. He's now with the Toronto Raptors.
Lance Stephenson, University of Cincinnati, 2010 2nd Round (40th Overall)
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Lance "Born Ready" Stephenson's NBA career didn't start the way his nickname suggests.
He told ESPN's Scoop Jackson he'd hoped to get drafted high when the 2010 NBA predraft camp kicked off.
I wanna get drafted high, at least in the top 15. I gotta show everybody that I'm ready. That I was born to play this sport.
Instead, Indiana took him with the 40th pick.
There's actually not much to say about his first two seasons except for the fact he was buried deep in the Indiana Pacers' bench.
And then Danny Granger got injured and missed most of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Certainly no knock on Granger, but when Stephenson was inserted into the Pacers' starting lineup, the rest, as they say, was history.
Stephenson was given a new lease on life, playing with a lot of energy, toughness and fearlessness.
On occasion, he makes dazzling plays inasmuch as he makes bone-headed ones, which can be maddening. But that's okay—he'll only be 23 next month, so as good as he is now, the best part is yet to come.
Paul George, California State University-Fresno, 2010 1st Round (10th Overall)
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The state of Indiana should thank Danny Granger for helping put Paul George in a Pacers uniform.
On draft day three years ago, Larry Bird called Granger to ask him what he thought of George. Granger said he'd been working out with him and then made his recommendation.
He said, "You better take him. Dude, you gotta take him...Dude. He's really, really good."
The Pacers later selected George with the 10th pick that evening.
In his first two NBA seasons, George showed a lot of promise, but he was very timid and hesitant. It was pretty obvious he could do more with what he had.
With that, George put in a lot of hard work during that offseason.
Not surprisingly, the 2012-13 NBA season saw George becoming an All-Star, the NBA's Most Improved Player, an NBA All-Defensive Second Team and All-NBA Third Team member.
He unleashed an arsenal that included drives, dunks, pull-up jumpers, three-pointers, blocks and steals. He raised his game on the offensive end and showed uncanny defensive anticipation.
The Indiana Pacers' most versatile player in quite some time has officially arrived.
Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State University, 2011 1st Round (15th Overall)
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Ever imagine Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the same Pacers team?
Not destined to happen.
After selecting Leonard 15th overall in 2011, the Pacers addressed their need for more depth at point guard and perimeter scoring by trading him to the San Antonio Spurs for Indianapolis native George Hill.
Then-Indiana GM David Morway said having Danny Granger and Paul George in the lineup made the decision easier, with a deal with the Spurs already in place by the time Leonard was taken off the draft board.
Pacers president Larry Bird also talked about why they wanted Hill in the fold.
He's an experienced player, he's been to the playoffs. He's a big guard. We like him because we know he's got length and can defend.
Hill quietly posted career highs of 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals in his first full season as Indiana's point guard in 2012-13.
He also made some noise in the playoffs in spite of his occasional struggles and a concussion he suffered against the New York Knicks in Game 5 of the second round.
Meanwhile, Leonard has made a statement of his own in San Antonio. He uses his athleticism, work ethic and tenaciousness to his advantage.
In Leonard, the Spurs have someone who can pretty much do it all on both ends of the court. His averages of 13.5 points, nine rebounds and 1.8 steals in the 2013 NBA playoffs should be a springboard for what lies ahead.
Miles Plumlee, Duke University, 2012 1st Round (26th Overall)
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The Pacers selected Miles Plumlee 26th overall in 2012 with the vision of him being a contributor on defense and rebounding.
In an ESPN interview, Coach Vogel said Plumlee is a blue-collar player who can do the dirty work for Indiana.
He's a blue-collar type of player. Probably the best dirty-work player in the entire draft. We're just thrilled to add him to our team.
Another Jeff Foster in the making? He turned out not to be.
Plumlee didn't see much action last season, chipping in with just 0.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 14 games. He took the court mostly during garbage time, displaying a limited offensive arsenal.
In his rookie year, Indiana ranked first in rebounding and second in points allowed. The Pacers clearly could have thrived in these areas even without his presence.
With Tyler Hansbrough's departure, some fans were even wondering if Plumlee could actually thrive as a backup power forward.
In fact, he was doing well in summer league play, at one point tallying nine points, nine rebounds, six blocks, three assists, two steals and no turnovers.
Alas, he was part of the trade that sent him to the Phoenix Suns and Luis Scola to the Pacers. While Indiana now has a proven backup scoring threat at the 4 spot, Phoenix is hoping Plumlee will somehow blossom into the dirty-work player he is.
Solomon Hill, University of Arizona, 2013 1st Round (23rd Overall)
Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard thought Arizona's Solomon Hill would be a key addition to the team's defensive-oriented culture when they chose him 23rd overall in June.
Hill should be able to help Indiana's already-solid defense right away.
What's more is that he is more than just a defensive player. According to the University of Arizona Athletics website via Pacers.com, Hill actually led the Arizona Wildcats in rebounding, field-goal percentage and assists.
Another encouraging note about this rookie is his progress in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League as seen in the eyes of Pacers.com's Mark Montieth.
I was impressed with the rookie, first-round draft pick Solomon Hill. He averaged 12 points and hit 49 percent of his shots—56 percent of his three-pointers. He has an awfully refined and mature game for a rookie, and looked to me like someone who can contribute as a rookie. I don't know that he has a high ceiling because he doesn't have exceptional athleticism, but he has a complete game.
He has a complete game.
This is a statement that jives with the Arizona scouting report. Hill was a small forward in college and could see some action here. Although at 6'6", he is undersized and could be more of a backup shooting guard.
If Hill delivers the goods, he could be that versatile swingman who could help propel the Indiana Pacers to even greater heights.