Chad Ford (via Mike Wells) on the Indiana Pacers draft strategy:
The Pacers are willing to give up their pick – No. 10 – in next week's draft to get a player that will help them immediately.
The Pacers wouldn't be searching for a point guard if they had taken [Ty] Lawson instead of Tyler Hansbrough last year. Lawson, who was the Pacers' second option, averaged 8.3 points and 3.1 assists last season.
Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Darren Collison and Eric Maynor were all still available when the Pacers picked at No. 13.
That’s what I’ve been saying! There are two conventional methods for making draft choices in the NBA. One is 'Talent'. Identifying the best available player and choosing that guy regardless of external circumstances. The second is 'Need'. This means determining what your team needs in order to fill a gap or serve a particular purpose.
Last year, the Pacers were in position to choose either method. They were a bad team with low expectations. Two positions, center and point guard, were obvious holes that needed to be filled. More broadly, they lacked high level NBA talent and had only a few players who were well suited for the style of Coach Jim O'Brien.
With their lottery pick, Larry Bird drafted Tyler Hansborough, a superstar collegian who was clearly not the most talented player on the board. Most of the folks who were excited about his selection were not convinced about his NBA potential but instead raved about his NBA readiness. This presumes then that the Pacers were trying to fill an immediate need with Hansborough. Except that power forward, Hansborough's only viable NBA position, was a position of strength for the Pacers! Troy Murphy was one of the league's few double-double (double figures in points and rebounds) guys AND he fits perfectly into O'Brien's offense as a top level 3 point shooter.
Instead of choosing for talent or need, Bird seemed to be choosing the guy he liked the most. Whether that affinity is about personality, style, work ethic or some other factor, it was a silly choice. For a team that has virtually no chance at improving itself through free agency, making smart trades and excellent draft selections is paramount. Next week, the Pacers have a chance to begin making good on the progress the team showed at the end of the year. They can't afford another miss.