- Here's a list of the best Indiana Pacers’ picks in franchise history.
- Reggie Miller leads the list of players Indiana selected through the draft.
- Other notable Pacers players include Rik Smits and Paul George.
The Indiana Pacers have been in the NBA since 1976 but have yet to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy; in fact, they only managed to qualify for the playoffs 27 times throughout their tenure in the league. Despite this low number, they reached the NBA Finals in 2000, which removed them from the list of NBA teams never to reach the NBA Finals.
However, Indiana hasn’t removed themselves from the list of NBA teams that have never won a championship. Because of this, the franchise is doubling its effort in selecting young players in the draft to increase their chances in NBA championship odds. Speaking of Indiana Pacers draft picks, let’s look at the three most impactful selections in franchise history.
First on the list is Reggie Miller, who was selected as the 11th overall pick in 1987. The former UCLA standout became the best three-point shooter in team history. Miller also established himself as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, as he racked up 2,560 three-point field goals, which placed him in fourth place of the all-time leaders in three-pointers made. In his tenure with the Pacers, they only missed three postseason campaigns.
on this day in 1995, Reggie Miller had one of the most clutch performances in NBA playoff history scoring 8 points in 8.9 seconds to lead us to a 107-105 win over the Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.😮💨 pic.twitter.com/cTjpfxt13C
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 7, 2023
The five-time NBA All-Star and three-time member of the All-NBA 3rd Team has averaged double digits in every season of his career, thanks to his high percentage of 47.1% shooting from the field and 39.5% from three-point range. In 1,389 games, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard produced career numbers of 18.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists across 18 seasons with Indiana. His biggest contribution to the franchise was helping them reach the NBA Finals in 2000.
If Miller was the best shooter in franchise history, Rik Smits has claimed the title of the best center in Indiana Pacers history. The 7-foot-4 center was drafted as the second-overall pick in 1988 and quickly acclimated himself in the league by becoming a member of the 1989 All-Rookie 1st Team, as he was able to average 11.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in his first season.
Memorial Day Miracle.🙌
On this day in 1995, Rik Smits hit the game-winning buzzer beater to lift us to a 94-93 win over the Magic in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. pic.twitter.com/TnkzLwEyhA
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 29, 2023
Smits continued his fine play for the team and sustained his double-digit scoring output, which significantly helped the team compete in the Eastern Conference and become a perennial playoff contender. In 1998, the former Marist College star was selected to his lone NBA All-Star Game. Because of foot problems and injuries, Smits’ NBA career was cut short in 2000. He played 867 games across 12 seasons for the Pacers and amassed an average of 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.
In 2010, Indiana drafted Paul George as their 10th overall pick. George’s career started on the bench and was the second-string shooting guard. But when he was moved to the starting lineup in his sophomore season, his numbers went up. Since then, his totals improved as the seasons progressed, and he even won the Most Improved Player award in 2013 during his breakout season.
George was primed to be the next face of the franchise and led them to postseason contention. Unfortunately, a devastating leg injury he sustained in the summer of 2014 slowed his rise to superstardom. Before that infamous injury, George was selected to be an NBA All-Star in 2013 and 2014, which were also the seasons they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
Another standing ovation for Paul George – 13pts/2rebs/2asts/2stls. pic.twitter.com/MYX3y18jIq
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 6, 2015
“PG” returned to action in the latter stage of the 2014-15 season and played two years with the Pacers before he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 448 games, the 6-foot-8 guard accumulated an average of 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists for Indiana across seven seasons.
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