The Ex-Pacers' Super Squad
Over the years, players have come and gone from the Indiana Pacers.
Most arrived without much fanfare. Some became All-Stars. Others never found their groove.
So how would the Pacers look today if those players never left (ignoring the fact that some were traded for others)? What kind of a team would they be? Would they be any good?
Well, let's take a look at a fantasy Indiana Pacers team with 15 former players who are currently still playing in the NBA.
Jermaine O'Neal, C
A promising player straight out of high school, Jermaine O'Neal spent four years on the bench for the Portland Trailblazers before being traded to Indiana, where he earned the Most Improved Player Award and went on to become a six-time NBA All-Star.
Following the Detroit brawl, Jermaine O'Neal's popularity nosedived. Coupled with injury woes and a lack of leadership skills, O'Neal secretly asked to be traded from the Pacers until the team finally granted his wish in 2008, when he was sent to the Toronto Raptors.
At 6'11" and 255 pounds, the 31-year-old O'Neal is most effective down the low block, though he can step out and hit the midrange jumper with consistency.
Currently, O'Neal is playing alongside Dwayne Wade and Michael Beasley with the Miami Heat. Though his best days are behind him, O'Neal is still a productive center, averaging 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season.
Al Harrington, PF
Big Al was selected 25th in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Pacers, where he spent his first six seasons.
Harrington was a popular player who ranked second in Sixth Man of the Year votes in 2003-2004, but he wanted more minutes and a bigger role. This led to a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, where Al flourished as a starter.
Later on he would play for the Golden State Warriors, before finding a home in New York playing for the Knicks.
This season, the 6'9" forward is averaging 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Harrington's biggest strength is his versatility— especially his ability to hit the long-range shot—and he plays most effectively in a fast-paced offensive structure.
Ron Artest, SF
The 6'7", 260-pound "Ron Ron" was just another solid player when he came to the Pacers during the middle of the 2001-2002 season.
In the next few years, Artest would become an All-Star and the best defensive player in the league, take the Pacers to their best-ever win total (61 victories in 2003-2004)—and then almost single-handedly destroy the franchise by climbing into the stands in the most infamous brawl in NBA history.
Despite given chance after chance, Artest betrayed the team time after time, eventually leading to a trade to the Sacramento Kings.
After a few more seasons, Artest went to the Houston Rockets, before signing with the LA Lakers for the 2009-2010 season.
Artest, who appears to have mellowed since his wildest days, is currently averaging 11.8 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, but it is his defensive prowess that cements his reputation as one of the most intimidating players in the league.
Stephen Jackson, SG
Another problem child, 6'8" swingman Stephen Jackson played for the Nets, Spurs and Hawks before landing with the Pacers in exchange for Al Harrington.
Jackson's three seasons in Indiana were productive, but of course he was one of the main instigators in the Detroit brawl in November 2004.
After firing gunshots in a bar incident in 2006, Jackson's career with the Pacers was effectively over.
Following the blockbuster trade that landed him in Golden State, Jackson became one of the key players for that team—until of course, he asked for a trade.
Now with the Charlotte Bobcats, Jackson has been playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 20 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals, leading the Bobcats towards an unlikely playoff spot in the East.
Jackson is a strong defender and an excellent shooter who is difficult to stop one-on-one because of his length and fearlessness.
Jarrett Jack, PG
Jarrett Jack was supposed to be the backup point guard to TJ Ford when he was traded to the Pacers in 2008 as part of the Brandon Rush-for-Jerryd Bayless deal.
However, Jack surprised everyone by becoming one of the more solid and durable players for the Pacers, playing all 82 games and taking over the starting role from Ford midway through the season.
Unfortunately, Jack's stellar season led to a nice offer from the Raptors, which the Pacers refused to match. He is currently averaging 10.1 points and 4.7 assists per game for Toronto.
Jack is not a flashy player, but he is tough and knows how to run an offense.
These guys may not have made the starting five, but they still get quality minutes and contribute every night as part of the main rotation.
Peja Stojakovic, F, Hornets: played 40 games for the Pacers; far from his peak, but still a deadly shooter when left open; averaging 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds this season.
Flip Murray, G, Bobcats: a combo guard that played just 23 games for the Pacers; solid veteran shooter who can still light it up when feeling it; currently averaging 9.6 points per game.
Erick Dampier, C, Mavericks: played just one season in Indy; plodding big man who cleans up the rebounds and provides inside presence; averaging 7.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a starter for the Mavs.
Jamaal Tinsley, PG, Grizzlies): spent seven tumultuous seasons in Indiana; say what you want about Tinsley off the court, but he can still pass the ball, and this team needs a backup PG; currently averaging 4 points and 3.1 assists.
These are the guys that will get sporadic minutes here and there, and potentially more during blowouts or when injuries strike.
Brad Miller, C, Bulls: played two seasons with the Pacers; legitimate seven-footer with nice outside touch; currently averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Jonathan Bender, C, Knicks: spent seven injury-plagued seasons in Indiana; athletic, seven-foot all-rounder who may have lost a step or two, but still provides versatility; averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in his comeback with the Knicks so far.
Anthony Johnson, G, (Magic): had three of his most productive seasons in a Pacers uniform; slow but experienced point-guard who can still orchestrate a team and shoot the ball; averaging 5 points and 2.4 rebounds this season.
Injured players or players who didn't make the 12-man playing squad but are still part of the team.
Marquis Daniels, G/F, Celtics: three injury-plagued seasons in Indiana and now injured in Boston; versatile player who seems to spend more time recovering than playing; before he went down again was averaging 5.7 points and 2.1 rebounds.
James Jones, F, Heat: played two seasons in Indiana, but didn't begin to show his stuff until he headed to Phoenix; now used sparingly in Miami, averaging 4.2 points per contest.
Ike Diogu, F/C, Hornets: two stints and 72 games with Indiana, but didn't live up to potential; was playing well at the end of last season with the Kings and signed with the Hornets in the offseason, but will not play this season after surgery on his knee.
Ex-Pacers who were cut from the squad:
Josh Powell, F/C, Lakers: played seven games for Indiana; averaging 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds this season.
Stephen Graham, F, Bobcats: two seasons and 74 games with the Pacers; averaging 3.9 points and 1.9 rebounds.
Well, there you have it.
A super-squad made up of 15 ex-Pacers players still active in the NBA (and two guys who missed out).
Frighteningly, I think this team would be a lock for a playoff spot in the East. It would certainly be better than the current Pacers squad.
Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington would carry the offensive load, and Ron Artest and Jermaine O'Neal would keep the outside and inside locked down defensively.
The bench is a little lacking in spark, with a bunch of veterans way past their primes, but they should be experienced enough to compete with a lot of second units in the league. A 40-45 win team perhaps?
What do you think?