2011 NBA Draft: Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers Should Draft Ben Hansbrough

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2011

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 08:  Ben Hansbrough #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dribbles the ball during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats in the 2010 DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at Freedom Hall on December 8, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ben Hansbrough has arguably been the best college basketball player in the country this year. 

His older brother, Tyler, was one of the best college basketball players of all-time.  Together, they could make the Indiana Pacers one of the most exciting teams in the NBA.

Ben is averaging 18.5 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in his senior season for Notre Dame.  He's shooting 49 percent from the field, 45 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line.

Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that over half his games were against teams from the best conference in the NCAA.  The Big East features great guards every year, and Ben picked this year's batch apart.

He's averaging 21 points a game in 18 Big East showdowns.

Older brother Tyler's dominance of the ACC was even more impressive. 

He averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds over four seasons against the elite competition of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  During his college career, he shot 54 percent from the field and 79 percent from the free-throw line.

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His dominance led him to several records.  He's the ACC's all-time leader in field goals and free throws made, free throws attempted, points scored and career points per game. 

He's also second all-time in rebounds by an ACC player.

Despite their incredible college careers, there aren't many people who think they can become great NBA players. 

Ben isn't on any NBA mock drafts for 2012, and Tyler has averaged less than 20 minutes in just under one full season worth of games (80).

When you compare younger brother Ben's college stats to some of the league's top point guards, he stacks up really well.  These numbers are from each player's last season in the NCAA:


Points Assists Rebounds Steals FG% 3P% FT%
Ben Hansbrough 18.5 4.2 3.8 1.3 49% 45% 82%
Rajon Rondo 11.2 4.9 6.1 2.0 48% 27% 57%
Russell Westbrook 12.7 4.3 3.9 1.6 47% 34% 71%
Chris Paul 15.3 6.6 4.5 2.4 45% 47% 83%
Deron Williams 12.5 6.8 3.6 1.0 43% 36% 68%

This year's Big East is arguably better than any of the conferences that the rest of the players from this table played in.  For Hansbrough to be as good, or in some cases better than these guys in college, leads me to believe he can be a very effective NBA point guard.

He's quick, handles and takes care of the ball extremely well and plays with an intensity that already exceeds many pros. 

He's also taller than a lot of NBA point guards, and there's no doubt he shoots better than most.

As for Tyler, his NBA career has been much better than his numbers would suggest.  That lack of production is largely due to a lack of minutes.  

In 80 games, he's averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 18.8 minutes per game. 

Up until a couple months ago, he wasn't getting the playing time he deserved.  If you look at his production per 36 minutes, he's actually been very good for a second-year player.

In that context, he's putting up 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.  Compare that to some of the league's more well-known starting power forwards:

  Points per 36 Minutes Rebounds per 36 Minutes
Tyler Hansbrough 17.3 9.3
David West 19.3 7.8
Chris Bosh 18.2 8.1
Paul Millsap 17.9 8.3

If Hansbrough got the kind of time these guys get, he could be just as productive.

Since Indiana fired Jim O'Brien his minutes have gone up a bit, and so has his production. 

In 17 games under interim coach Frank Vogel, Hansbrough is averaging 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game.

If his minutes keep going up into next season, he could be one of the league's more productive power forwards in 2012.

The thought of these brothers playing together in the NBA is very intriguing.  If they both develop into the kind of players they can be (and get the minutes they deserve), they could be one of the most exciting duos in the league.

They're as intense as anyone in the league, and that intensity is infectious.  It would excite both the Pacers players and their fans.

Add them to Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and a shooting guard they may take another shot at in the offseason (O.J. Mayo), and you get a squad that could develop into something special.

The two guys that are currently starting in the spots the HansBROS (you know you like it) would fill are Darren Collison and Josh McRoberts. 

Collison has been average at best, and McRoberts has never been anywhere near as productive as Psycho T.

A starting lineup of Hansbrough, Mayo, Granger, Hansbrough and Hibbert could be a fifth or sixth seed in the Eastern Conference as early as next season.

And while I'm at it, here's a message for Larry Bird: Hire yourself to be the head coach again.

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