Just one day after the NBA draft, I flipped to ESPN only to see the Worldwide Leader in Sports and all of its analysts saying that the Indiana Pacers had the worst draft day taking Tyler Hansbrough with the number 13 pick.
They stated that Hansbrough has maxed out his potential, he will not start next year for the Pacers and some "experts" event went as far as saying that he would be a "mediocre basketball player at best."
Some bloggers even have the audacity to claim that the former North Carolina standout will not be able to co-exist with Josh McRoberts and Mike Dunleavy, both former Duke Blue Devils. Hansbrough told Pacer fans in an on line chat via Twitter that the worst that could happen was him teasing them during March Madness when Duke and UNC meet on the court, though any fan with half a brain knew that that was all that it would come to anyway.
The fact still remains, that Hansbrough has a lot of critics to answer when he hits Conseco Fieldhouse in October. That's okay, Hansbrough is used to pressure. After all, his jersey was retired at UNC before his senior season even began. He witnessed his jersey rising to join those of greats such as James Worthy and Michael Jordan at the Smith Center before he even started the season.
The Pacers already have plenty of talent. With Danny Granger, Dunleavy, TJ Ford, Troy Murphy, Marquis Daniels and Jarrett Jack all averaging double figures this past season, it is undeniable that Indiana has the ability to return to the playoffs and beyond. After all, the Pacers were the only team this season to beat the Lakers, Magic, Cavs and Celtics.
But they lost 21 games by a margin of five points or fewer, which alone is more than Cleveland, Boston and the Lakers had all season. That supports the idea what even though the Pacers overall character has improved since the Malice at the Palace in November 2004, leadership and clutch play is still lacking. I would wager to say that the Pacers have not had a true leader since Reggie Miller's 2005 retirement.
Hansbrough has been noted for having impeccable leadership skills. He earns the respect of his teammates and motivates the people around him as witnessed by him leading UNC to a 2009 NCAA Championship. Hansbrough will be the answer to a few of Indiana's problems and with any luck, 2000 will not have been this last season that the Hoosier state, known for its rich basketball tradition, hosted the NBA finals.