The Indiana Pacers are one of the most average franchises in NBA history.
There has never been a stretch of time in which they were the best team in the league.
Along with this, there has never been a period in which the Pacers were one of the worst in the league.
Throughout the majority of the history of the franchise they have been a No. 4-8 seed or, like this season, just barely miss the playoffs.
Longest Active Postseason Appearance Streaks:
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) May 17, 2021
This continued mediocrity causes the Pacers to never really have a high enough pick in the draft to acquire a franchise-changing player.
Instead, they are forced to draft extremely well and have one of the best scouting departments in the league.
Both are players who were selected outside of the top 10, however, went on to have Hall-of-Fame-caliber careers.
There are three major reasons why the Pacers are stuck being an average team.
Refusal To Tank
The first reason why the Pacers are stuck being an average team is that they refuse to tank.
This season is the first time that the Pacers missed the playoffs since 2014-2015.
— Barstool Indy (@barstoolindy) March 30, 2021
Despite missing the playoffs this year, the Pacers still put up a good fight and finished as the No. 9 seed, being eliminated in the play-in tournament.
It is clear that there is a desire and pride of winning every game possible within the organization.
While that sounds good on paper and is a great team slogan, it is leading to mediocrity in Indiana.
Because the Pacers refuse to tank, they are stuck drafting near the end of the lottery or just outside the lottery every season.
Even with their amazing eye for talent, picking in this position every season makes it very difficult to find gems.
If the Pacers went into a rebuild with the front office they have, they would be capable of breaking out of mediocrity within a few seasons of tanking.
The second reason as to why the Pacers are stuck being average is the way their roster is built.
Currently, the Pacers are comprised of veteran players, only one of which being an All-Star-level player.
While their roster is well rounded, it does not have the star power necessary.
Along with this, there is not much youth on the team either.
This makes it very difficult for the Pacers to trade for star players to add to the team.
With this vicious cycle, even though the Pacers are a very well run organization, it is difficult for them to be better than average.
Small Market Team
The final reason why the Pacers are stuck being average is they are a small market team.
This hurts the team on many fronts.
It makes it harder for them to land big-name stars in free agency.
Along with this, it makes it more difficult to get the star players they draft to stay with the team.
It is much easier for teams in bigger cities to sign players away from small market teams.
Oftentimes, this causes the Pacers to take risks and overpay players to join their team.
Lastly, there is usually less revenue coming in for small market teams.
This makes it difficult for the owner to be eager to spend money on the roster.
As a result, the team does not have the talent necessary to break from mediocrity.