Now that the 2022 NBA Draft is almost upon us, reminiscing on the Indiana Pacers‘ top draft selections of all-time should bring back some great memories of the Blue and Gold.
For the purposes of this article, we will rank these studs according to their long-term impact on the Pacers franchise.
The Davis Boys and the Dunking Dutchman were pillars of Indiana teams that were perennial title contenders for the better part of the 1990s.
However, there were three Pacers draft picks that had a bigger impact on Indy.
3. Danny Granger, 2005
The Pacers made Danny Granger the 17th overall selection of the 2005 NBA Draft.
Granger fell right into the Pacers’ lap after several teams expressed concern over his knee injury in college.
Granger entered the fray in the aftermath of the infamous “Malice at the Palace” just five months earlier.
It was also the Pacers’ first season without the legendary Reggie Miller in 18 years.
Clearly, the Blue and Gold were a team in transition.
— Pacers Nation (@PacersNationCP) April 20, 2020
Granger proved the naysayers wrong and emerged as a sweet-shooting small forward during his time in Indiana.
He was money from the perimeter and could slash to the basket if you dared him.
Granger peaked during the 2008-09 NBA season when he averaged 25.8 points per game.
He made his lone NBA All-Star appearance in February 2009.
Thing is, he could’ve been an All-Star several times during his 10-year NBA career.
Unfortunately, he played for below-average Pacers teams when his hoops career reached its pinnacle toward the end of the 2000s.
Despite the Pacers’ misfortunes back then, Granger remained loyal to the organization.
Sadly, that’s one thing you cannot say about many of today’s NBA stars.
2. Paul George, 2010
Paul George was largely an unknown when the Pacers drafted him 10th overall in 2010.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for PG to rise from the ashes.
George was one of the focal points of Pacers head coach Frank Vogel’s “Smashmouth” style of basketball from 2011 to 2016.
George could do it on both ends of the court – he could score in bunches and put the clamps on the opponents’ best players.
George, who averaged 18.1 points in seven seasons in Indiana, was one of the best – if not the best – two-way players who ever wore Pacers Blue and Gold.
His claim to fame was posterizing Chris “Birdman” Andersen in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Sadly, PG’s departure from the Circle City in 2017 remains controversial to this day.
Nevertheless, he put Indiana basketball back on the map after a dark time in franchise history under former head coach Jim O’Brien.
1. Reggie Miller, 1987
Reggie Miller is the undisputed top draft choice in Pacers NBA history.
In the weeks leading up to the 1987 NBA Draft, Pacers fans wanted the team to select hometown hero Steve Alford of the Indiana Hoosiers.
However, Indiana GM Donnie Walsh went with Miller with the 11th overall selection.
Miller wasn’t welcomed with open arms in the Hoosier State.
Back then, Indiana was all about Bob Knight‘s Hoosiers.
Both the NBA’s Pacers and NFL’s Indianapolis Colts struggled big-time when Miller burst into the local sports scene.
Nobody knew who the Pacers were.
Miller changed all that during his legendary 18-year tenure with the franchise.
STRAIGHT FIRE! 🔥 A look back at the career of Pacers legend, Reggie Miller!
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) September 18, 2017
The rail-thin, trash-talking shooting guard averaged 18.2 points and earned five NBA All-Star selections during that time frame.
Behind Miller’s exploits, Indy made the playoffs 15 times from 1987 to 2005.
Miller produced some of the most memorable moments in Pacers franchise history.
25 fourth-quarter points against the New York Knicks in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.
Eight points in nine seconds against the Knicks a year later.
The Pacers’ first NBA Finals appearance against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.
To nobody’s surprise, Miller became a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Regrettably, he never got that elusive NBA championship ring.
Nonetheless, Miller set the bar high for future stars at the 2 guard spot.
Miller also established a lasting legacy in Indiana that warrants a statue in his honor at Gainbridge Fieldhouse someday.