NBA Draft Results 2011: Grading the Indiana Pacers' Draft Picks
One of the more notable draft night moves was the arrival of local product George Hill. The move leaves Indiana with more questions than the trade answered.
While Hill's homecoming was greeted positively by the Pacer faithful, Hill does little to impact the Pacers' chances of competing in the East. In fact, his arrival is another twist in a long struggle to return to prominence.
Can the Pacers make it work with Collison and now Hill, or are they not done dealing? Still, they need a power forward and a legitimate shooting guard. So Pacer fans should hope there are more deals to come.
First Round: Pacers Select Kawhi Leonard and Trade Him for George Hill
The first Indy move of the night gave Pacers nation a near cardiac arrest when it was announced the Pacers had selected Kawhi Leonard.
Not that Leonard won't be good. In fact, it was surprising how far he fell. It was more to do with the fact that the Pacers are already bloated with forwards.
It was either some kind of cruel joke and a nefarious plot by Larry Bird to build an entire roster of athletic swingmen who can't really shoot all that well, or a trade was coming.
Thankfully, it was the latter.
Unfortunately, the trade further complicates Indiana's seemingly endless rebuilding project, in the latest effort to restore basketball pride and return the Pacers to conference contention.
The trade was surprising on both ends.
On San Antonio's end, why would the Spurs sacrifice a young talent who served as an insurance policy for Tony Parker. Not only is Parker advancing in age, but earlier last week he had been at the heart of several trade rumors.
There are three logical reasons why San Antonio (one of the smartest front offices in the league) would pull the trigger:
1. Tony Parker is staying put and the Spurs are going to take one more crack at a title.
2. Richard Jefferson was not the answer and is on his way out.
3. The Spurs aren't as high on Hill and think he's overrated (If the Spurs think so he probably is).
If you guessed a combination of all three, you are correct. Parker's got one or two more good years, and with the arrival of Leonard, Jefferson might as well start packing his bags. There is no way such a smart front office is letting a budding star, who's entering his prime, leave.
From the Pacers standpoint, the trade was equally unexpected. The move was made to increase scoring, but it was also to engender good will from a flagging fan base by bringing home a local star. While both were needed and accomplished with the trade, Hill isn't the best option for the team.
At a generous 6'3", he's too small to play the 2 spot, and he is still not the automatic shooter the Pacers need. Plus didn't the Pacers land their point guard of the future in Darren Collision just last year? Hill's game has developed but so has/can Collison's.
My friend Leo sent me an email saying Collison is nothing more than a good backup. Others say he has top-10 potential. Either way, he's only 23, and shouldn't we give him another year in the system? Let's find out what we have.
For the Pacers there are three outcomes for this trade:
1. The Pacers play both guys at the same time, which may increase scoring but leaves the Pacers vulnerable, defensively.
2. Collison and Hill split time, which isn't ideal for building offensive continuity.
3. One is traded.
A week ago, there was no way I would have imagined trading Collison. Now, although by coercion, it has to be considered.
Coach Vogel doesn't play small ball, so the Pacers won't change their system. And anyway, with the Pacers supposedly developing big Roy Hibbert, it's hard to imagine he would be pleased to take up track.
Plus, Golden State's disastrous experiment of pairing Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry doesn't bode well for a two-guard system.
Second Round: Pacers Select Davis Bertans, Trade Him to San Antonio
As part of the deal, the Pacers traded Davis Bertans to San Antonio.
Another reason I don't like this trade is because the Pacers finally drafted a pure shooter and then traded him away. That's all I've been asking for all week, we have him in our grasps and we give him to San Antonio. Sigh...
Granted, it's the second round, so you can't expect much. But Nike International Director Rich Shoebrooks described Bertans as "being the top shooter to play on the Hoop Summit International squad since Dirk Nowitzki."
As part of the deal, the Pacers threw in Erazem Lorbek, an addition that nobody cares about except Lorbek's immediate family and the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff. They will improbably turn him into another forgotten about foreigner who suddenly comes out of nowhere to play a prominent role for a playoff contender.
Final Grades for the Draft
The George Hill trade: C-
Giving up Davis Bertans (part of the Hill trade): C-
I know that many Pacers like the trade, especially given Hill's Indiana roots. I don't. It doesn't solve the Pacers key issues, and it hampers Collison's progress.
Hill's scoring keeps being mentioned as a reason for the trade, but are the Pacers really getting that much of a bump? Hill averaged 11.6 ppg, compared to Collison's 13.2 ppg (or two higher), and Collison did so in fewer minutes.
Sure the offense didn't go through Hill in San Antonio which may have hurt his numbers, but Collison isn't Indiana's first option either.
The scoring thing is a myth. Unless the Pacers expect Hill to explode for 19/20 points a night (jumps like that rarely happen after the second year), it doesn't make sense to trade a quality pass-first point guard who has experience running the team.
Instead, the Pacers should deal Hill.
Possible Trade Scenarios
Leading up to the draft, I thought Granger had to go. I figured with all our wing forwards and the emergence of Paul George, Granger would be pushed out, because there wasn't enough room for everyone.
I still think that would have been the best and easiest move. But, Granger is here and it's not like the Pacers disliked Granger, he just wasn't a franchise player.
Now with Hill in the mix, trading Granger is less likely. You could still swap him for a good power forward, but you're left with the problem of figuring out how to work the tandem of a Collison/Hill in the backcourt (which is a bigger problem than starting Hansbrough at the moment).
Instead, what about moving Hill.
Send Hill out West to Utah, in return for one of their big men. With the addition of Enes Kanter, Utah's created its own mess in finding playing time for all their forwards.
Kanter, Favors, Jefferson and Milsap are potential All-Star players. Their starting shooting guard, Raja Bell, is not.
Hill in return for Jefferson or Milsap would help both teams. Then either the Pacers could go big and athletic with Collison, George, Granger, Millsap and Hibbert, or could find a team, say Golden State, with a plethora of true 2-guards and move Granger.
I'd vote for giving a bigger lineup a try and seeing if Rush can find his stroke.
Either way, Hill is more valuable as a trade piece than as a Pacer. Then again, so was Kawhi Leonard and look how that ended up.