One of the Indiana Pacers‘ most glaring flaws in recent franchise history has been their hard-luck drafting during the Kevin Pritchard era.
Indy’s draft track record from 2011 to the present day has been abysmal, to say the least.
It’s a far cry from the Donnie Walsh era from 1984 to 2008 when the Blue and Gold plucked guys like Chuck Person, Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, the Davis Boys, Travis Best, Al Harrington, and Danny Granger from the draft pool.
With the 2022 NBA Draft just around the corner, now is the best time to make amends for the Pacers’ recent shortcomings in the draft.
Indy’s Draft Track Record From 2011 To The Present Day Has Been Atrocious
The Pacers hired Pritchard to become their director of player personnel in 2011.
He’s currently the team’s president of basketball operations.
The Pacers blew a golden opportunity the moment Pritchard came on board – they traded Kawhi Leonard to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill in the aftermath of the 2011 NBA Draft.
To this day, it remains one of the biggest draft blunders in Pacers franchise history.
2011 NBA DRAFT (15)
Indiana Pacers select Kawhi Leonard and trade for George Hill. I wonder if him and Paul George couldve made some noise together? That wouldve been something to see! pic.twitter.com/6ymuNfJF5K
— Josh Kidwell (@JoshKidwell29) June 14, 2019
Indy’s fans can only wonder how much the team’s fortunes would’ve changed had Leonard worn Pacers Blue and Gold.
Since the Pacers let Leonard walk away 11 years ago, they’ve had just two draft picks that have paid huge dividends: Myles Turner (2015) and Chris Duarte (2021).
It hurts to say this, but Indiana has had just two draft picks that have exceeded expectations over an 11-year span.
You can certainly make a case for Caris LeVert (2016).
However, he never even lasted a full season with the Pacers after they reacquired him from the Brooklyn Nets in 2021.
Consider for a moment some of the the rookies Indiana has drafted since 2011.
Miles Plumlee (2012), Solomon HIll (2013), Joe Young (2015), Ike Anigbogu (2017), and Cassius Stanley (2020) have all faded into oblivion.
For his part, T.J. Leaf (2017) remains one of the biggest draft busts in Pacers franchise history.
We’ll never know why Pritchard and co. passed up on guys like Jarrett Allen, O.G. Anunoby, and Kyle Kuzma that year.
On the other hand, Goga Bitadze (2019) has shown some potential, but he’s been a liability defensively for Indiana.
Clearly, the Pacers must get their act together on draft day this year.
The 2022 NBA Draft Is A Pivotal Turning Point In Franchise History
The 2022 NBA Draft could make or break the Pacers’ fortunes in the next several years.
Bear in mind this is a team coming off an atrocious 25-57 win-loss season – its worst record in three decades.
Unless they trade up, the Pacers will pick sixth in this year’s draft.
They are in a good position to snag talented rookies such as Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, or Dyson Daniels.
Among that group, Ivey and Murray have bigger upsides.
#Pacers are reportedly considering packaging the 6th & #31 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft with Malcolm Brogdon to move up in the draft and are reportedly eyeing Jaden Ivey heavily 👀#NBA#NBADraft pic.twitter.com/f5vx5cHGcA
— We Talk Hoops 🏀 (@WeTalkHooops) June 20, 2022
Ivey, a former Purdue Boilermakers guard who grew up in South Bend, IN, could become the Pacers’ next hometown hero after George Hill.
Ivey’s game is eerily similar to Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant.
On the other hand, Murray is an athletic power forward who can score in bunches and defend and rebound with the best of them.
Should Indiana draft him, he has the potential to become one of the best two-way players in franchise history.
In the event both Ivey and Murray slip from the Pacers’ grasp, Sharpe, Mathurin, or Daniels can potentially become a game-changer in the professional ranks.
Regardless who the Pacers draft on June 23, they better play their cards right if they want to become playoff contenders again.