For the fourth consecutive season, the Indiana Pacers are guaranteed a losing record. But despite their recent failings, the Pacers annually manage to win meaningless games late in the season, assuring themselves of a low-end lottery pick.
It drives Pacers fans mad. I should know, I live in Indy.
In fact, Indiana hasn’t had a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft in 12 years. It’s the longest current streak in the league.
Only three franchises have had longer streaks in between top-10 selections in NBA history. Houston went 14 years between picking Hakeem Olajuwon No. 1 overall in 1984 and taking Joel Pryzbilla No. 9 in 2000. That’ll probably be the only time the two are mentioned in the same sentence, unless of course The Dream hurts himself in the shower anytime soon, like the Blazers center did this week.
Seattle went 15 years between drafting Mouhamed Saer Sene (No. 10 in 2006) and Gary Payton (No. 2 in 1990). But that pales in comparison to the 21-year stretch Utah endured between the drafting of Deron Williams (No. 3 in 2005) and Thurl Bailey (No. 7 in 1983). I don’t remember much of Thurl Bailey other than his name is familiar because he was in NBA Live 95 for Sega Genesis (you know, the same year Michael Jordan was featured as Roster Player #99).
(And in case you’re curious, after the jump I’ve compiled a list of the most recent top-10 and top-five draft picks for each franchise.)
But Indiana isn’t angling for just a top-10 pick. The Pacers are bad enough to hope for a top-five pick, something they haven’t had since taking Rik Smits No. 2 overall in 1988. Speaking of Smits, I usually have to catch myself from drunk dialing the Dunkin’ Dutchman as I scroll through the numbers in my cell phone at 2:30 a.m. His entry is actually right after my Rumors and Rants colleague Phillips’ phone number, so there have been some close calls. The dangers of not having a friend named Qbert to provide an alphabetical buffer.
But back to the Pacers’ ineptitude. Indiana currently has the fourth-worst record in the NBA, giving them an 11.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick.
But the Pacers will have plenty of lottery balls in there, and really that’s all Pacers fans have to look forward to the remainder of the season.
In today’s Indianapolis Star, Pacers beat writer Mike Wells examines the team’s remaining schedule, as well as those of their closest failing rivals. The article is titled, “Losing now can help Pacers later.” Which is definitely true. So it’s a good thing they continue to play a team that looks like your local CYO squad – a topic we’ve delved into before on this site.
In the article, Wells adds this little nugget at the end, saying that while losing might be beneficial for the Pacers, don’t expect a tank job.
“O’Brien’s competitive nature does not allow him to throw in the towel.”
This in the same newspaper that two days earlier had called for O’Brien’s job. The Star’s columnist Bob Kravitz wrote a piece titled “O’Brien must go – for the good of the bad Pacers.” Kravitz even went as far as to say that the coach might be losing on purpose in order to get fired, collect a paycheck and relocate to a warmer climate to count his money.
So why the need for an unnecessary compliment from the beat writer about O’Brien’s grit and drive to win?
Well basically what happened was Kravitz, who probably has been to maybe four Pacers games all year (the season opener, twice when LeBron came and then again for Kobe) bashes O’Brien and Wells is left to pick up the pieces seeing as he has to deal with O’Brien and the team on a daily basis. Though in Kravitz’s defense, the Pacers haven’t really given him a reason to show up.
But it doesn’t change the fact that Kravitz is right. The Pacers suck. And Jim O’Brien certainly isn’t helping matters.
Unfortunately for Pacers fans, Larry Bird is still calling the shots so even if Indiana lands a top-five pick you can expect the former Celtics great to pass on studs like Evan Turner, Wesley Johnson and John Wall to reach on either Cole Aldrich, Kyle Singler or that kid from BYU.
Most Recent Top-10 and Top-5 Picks For Each Franchise
Last Top-10 Pick: Al Horford, No. 3 (2007)
Last Top-5 Pick: Al Horford, No. 3 (2007)
Last Top-10 Pick: D.J. Augustin, No. 9 (2008)
Last Top-5 Pick: Adam Morrison, No. 3 (2006)
Last Top-10 Pick: Derrick Rose, No. 1 (2008)
Last Top-5 Pick: Derrick Rose, No. 1 (2008)
Last Top-10 Pick: Luke Jackson, No. 10 (2004)
Last Top-5 Pick: LeBron James, No. 1 (2003)
Last Top-10 Pick: Robert Traylor, No. 6 (1998)
Last Top-5 Pick: Jason Kidd, No. 2 (1994)
Last Top-10 Pick: Carmelo Anthony, No. 3 (2003)
Last Top-5 Pick: Carmelo Anthony, No. 3 (2003)
Last Top-10 Pick: Darko Milicic, No. 2 (2003)
Last Top-5 Pick: Darko Milicic, No. 2 (2003)
Last Top-10 Pick: Stephon Curry, No. 7 (2009)
Last Top-5 Pick: Mike Dunleavy, No. 3 (2002)
Last Top-10 Pick: Rudy Gay, No. 8 (2006)
Last Top-5 Pick: Yao Ming, No. 1 (2002)
Last Top-10 Pick: Erick Dampier, No. 10 (1996)
Last Top-5 Pick: Rik Smits, No. 2 (1988)
Last Top-10 Pick: Blake Griffin, No. 1 (2009)
Last Top-5 Pick: Blake Griffin, No. 1 (2009)
Last Top-10 Pick: Andrew Bynum, No. 10 (2005)
Last Top-5 Pick: James Worthy, No. 1 (1982)
Last Top-10 Pick: Michael Beasley, No. 2 (2008)
Last Top-5 Pick: Michael Beasley, No. 2 (2008)
Last Top-10 Pick: Brandon Jennings, No. 10 (2009)
Last Top-5 Pick: Andrew Bogut, No. 1 (2005)
Last Top-10 Pick: Ricky Rubio, No. 5 (2009)
Last Top-5 Pick: Ricky Rubio, No. 5 (2009)
Last Top 10 Pick: Brook Lopez, No. 10 (2008)
Last Top 5 Pick: Kenyon Martin, No. 1 (2000)
Last Top 10 Pick: Chris Paul, No. 4 (2005)
Last Top 5 Pick: Chris Paul, No. 4 (2005)
Last Top 10 Pick: Jordan Hill, No. 8 (2009)
Last Top 5 Pick: Kenny Walker, No. 5 (1986)
Last Top 10 Pick: James Harden, No. 3 (2009)
Last Top 5 Pick: James Harden, No. 3 (2009)
Last Top 10 Pick: Dwight Howard, No. 1 (2004)
Last Top 5 Pick: Dwight Howard, No. 1 (2004)
Last Top 10 Pick: Andre Iguodala, No. 9 (2004)
Last Top 5 Pick: Keith Van Horn, No. 2 (1997)
Last Top 10 Pick: Luol Deng, No. 7 (2004)
Last Top 5 Pick: Armon Gilliam, No. 2 (1987)
Last Top 10 Pick: Greg Oden, No. 1 (2007)
Last Top 5 Pick: Greg Oden, No. 1 (2007)
Last Top 10 Pick: Tyreke Evans, No. 4 (2009)
Last Top 5 Pick: Tyreke Evans, No. 4 (2009)
Last Top 10 Pick: DeMar DeRozan, No. 9 (2009)
Last Top 5 Pick: Andrea Bargnani, No. 1 (2006)
Last Top 10 Pick: Deron Williams, No. 3 (2005)
Last Top 5 Pick: Deron Williams, No. 3 (2005)
Last Top 10 Pick: Devin Harris, No. 5 (2004)
Last Top 5 Pick: Devin Harris, No. 5 (2004)