The Pacers in the First Round Part II: 1990-1999

[Note by Cornrows, 06/14/09 11:22 PM EDT  From the FanPosts, goodlucksaturday takes us through the '90's draft picks for the Pacers.]

In the first round of the 1980's, the Pacers were drafting a foundation. But as the team slowly began to gel, they would shift into the 1990's by drafting for depth. The one last player taken as a prolific starter for Indiana was Dale Davis in 1991, but through 1992-1999, only three of their first round picks found valuable time as Pacers, four if you count Jeff Foster, though none were game changing players, unless you count Al Harrington.

The team would find value from their first rounders in the 90's, however, if not for them, then for pieces to help improve them, acquiring key players like Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin through their first round picks or players they drafted. Below is the Pacers drafting in the 90's, lacking of blockbuster, but not void of fond memories and names along with names we'd like to forget...again.

1990 - No First Round Pick

Way back in 1984, the Pacers gave up a first round pick (Top-7 Protected) to Phoenix. Phoenix would acquire it in 1990. The Pacers traded the pick for Bill Garnett and Terence Stansbury, both of which combined for about 15 points a night in two short seasons for the Pacers.

But though Indiana didn't have a first round pick, they made the most of their first pick in the 1990 draft by drafting Antonio Davis 45th overall. Davis would spend time in Europe and not see the light of NBA day until 1993, but he would go on to be one of the most important players for the Pacers in the 90's, even finding time to be an All-Star while playing for Toronto towards the end of his career.

1991 - 13th Overall, Dale Davis (Clemson)

For the 1991 Draft, the Pacers got mean and they got dirty down low when they acquired Clemson's Dale Davis. Dale Davis would spend his first nine seasons with Indiana, finding home as one of the era's top rebounders, and one of the top twenty offensive rebounders ever.

Davis would play for the Pacers from 1991-2000, and was even named as an NBA All-Star in 2000 before being traded to Portland for Jermaine O'Neal, but it was his second stint in Indiana in the second half of 2004-05 that may be his best achievement. Davis's career found a complete renaissance for the splintered 04-05 Pacers, playing like the Dale Davis that never left the Pacers.

Davis would finish his career for the Pistons, but Dale Davis is remembered, and rightfully so, as one of the Pacers greatest players for all the right reasons.

Honors & Achievements

2000 NBA All-Star

1992 - 14th Overall, Malik Sealy (St. John's)

The late Malik Sealy was drafted in 1992 for the Pacers, but the 6'8" guard never made a mark for Indiana in his two seasons on the team, averaging about 6 points in 13 minutes of action. Malik was part of the Pacers trade with the Clippers that brought Mark Jackson to the Pacers, which is sadly his greatest legacy as a Pacer.

Sealy went on to find success and a place with the Clippers and had begun to find his place with the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as acting before his life was tragically cut short on May 20, 2000 by a drunk driver. One of Malik's final marks on the league was a buzzer beating three to bury the Pacers against the Timberwolves in January 2000.

Honors & Achievements

1988 McDonald's All-American
1991-1992 NCAA AP All-American 3rd Team

1993 - 14th Overall, Scott Haskin (Oregon State)

The 1993 draft was a funny thing. The Indiana Pacers finished 41-41 and won the tiebreaker with the Orlando Magic and went on to the playoffs to lose in four to the top seeded Knicks. Meanwhile, the Magic won the Draft Lottery and were awarded the top pick in the NBA Draft for the second straight year. So while the Magic were able to draft Chris Webber (and eventually trade him for Anfernee Hardaway) to go alongside Shaquille O'Neal, the Pacers' draft fortunes became the polar opposite.

Scott Haskin had a quality career for Oregon State and the 6'11" center was drafted by the Pacers at 14. Haskin's minutes were limited, but he showed some decent abilities as a big league rebounder in those limited minutes. But before Haskin had a chance to evolve, his career was cut short after only 27 games due to back injury. He was never able to recover from a back surgery he had just before the 94-95 season began, and his career was over before it began.

1994 - 15th Overall, Eric Piatkowski (Nebraska)

The Pacers drafted Piatkowski in 1994 for the Los Angeles Clippers, who had just acquired Malik Sealy and Pooh Richardson from the Pacers for Mark Jackson.

The Pacers walked away with the best player in the deal, but the Clippers got contributions from all of their players, including Piatkowski, who would spend his first nine seasons playing for the Clippers. Piatkowski's claim to fame was a dangerous three point shot, shooting almost 47% in 2001-02. He would go on to have 14 NBA seasons before retiring in 2008, never having any connection at all witih the team that drafted him.

1995 - 23rd Overall, Travis Best (Georgia Tech)

The Pacers acquired a back-up point guard in 1995 with Travis Best, a player who once scored 81 points in high school. Best began as a back-up before briefly taking the starting job in 1996-97 following the also brief departure of Mark Jackson to the Nuggets.

Best's best days were indeed as back-up point guard for the Pacers, a job he held in earnest for six and a half years. He was a solid marksman, and his claim to fame was hitting the game winning shot against Milwaukee in game five of the 2000 NBA Playoffs to advance the Pacers to the second round on their way to their first and only NBA Finals Appearance.

Despite a bad way to end a good relationship after requesting a trade following Jamaal Tinsley's starting position in 2001, Best's contributions to the Pacers were vital in their best years, which is a good thing to ask for any player.

Honors & Achievements

1991 McDonald's All-American

1996 - 10th Overall, Erick Dampier (Mississippi State)

The Pacers traded Mark Jackson to the Denver Nuggets for Jalen Rose, Reggie Williams, and the teams swapped first rounders. The Pacers moved up to tenth from 23rd, and used it to draft Erick Dampier out of Mississippi State.

Dampier's contributions to the Pacers were limited to five points in 15 minutes for the struggling 96-97 Pacers. Following a trade bringing in Golden State Warriors legend Chris Mullin, the Pacers would make use out of Mullin as a championship piece, while Dampier would go on to find his niche as a quality role player for the Warriors and Mavericks.

Dampier is the oldest Pacers first rounder to still be in the NBA, and he's found a home in Dallas and has evolved into one of the league's premier offensive rebounders.

Honors & Achievements

2003-2004 NBA League Leader (Offensive Rebounds)

1997 - 12th Overall, Austin Croshere (Providence)

Following the mess of the 96-97 season, the Pacers looked forward to building to a championship level, instead of a contender level. They hired Larry Bird as head coach, acquired championship hungry veterans, and drafted Austin Croshere out of Providence, fresh off of their Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament.

Croshere's contributions would be extremely limited in his first two years, but he would go on to become a valuable asset for the Pacers off the bench in their Finals run in 2000. Croshere would spend nine years in Indiana as a fan favorite and a valuable role player before Croshere was traded to Dallas in 2006.

Bouncing around since then, Croshere tried out for the Pacers in 2008, but failed to make the team.

1998 - 25th Overall, Al Harrington (St. Patrick in Elizabeth HS)

The Pacers entered the realm the rest of the NBA had been a part of for a few years to that point: drafting players out of high school. Harrington decided to forgo college for the NBA, being named USA Today's Player of the Year.

Harrington certainly paid his dues to the Pacers, getting extremely limited playing time in his first two seasons, not even hitting the court in either postseason in 1999 or 2000. But as the times changed, so did Harrington's role.

Harrington would be a sixth man for Indiana in his career, where he became a valuable asset to the Pacers between 2001 and 2004, including the Pacers 2004 Playoff run. Harrington wanted a starting role, but the team disagreed having Ron Artest, so he moved on to Atlanta for a short stint where he flourished into a big scorer.

He returned to Indiana in 2006 as a starter, but spent only half the season with the Pacers, before being traded to Golden State as part of a move to clean up the Pacers image regarding Stephen Jackson and to help move Danny Granger into the starting lineup. Harrington was instrumental to the Golden State Warriors in their 2007 playoff run, and was the Knicks leading scorer in 2008-09.

Honors & Achievements

1998 McDonald's All-American

1999 - 26th Overall, Vonteego Cummings (Pittsburgh) (traded for Jeff Foster, Southwest Texas State) (acquired Jonathan Bender)

The Pacers made a draft night move in 1999, trading the rights to the 26th overall pick to Golden State for Jeff Foster and a future lottery protected first rounder. It's worth noting that Cummings's career was only three years and never had a chance to take off, despite a couple of decent years for the Warriors, but the night for Indiana was in picking up Jeff Foster.

Foster came out of Southwest Texas State and evolved into a fan favorite in Indiana thanks to his tenacity and very Hoosier style of play that became an integral replacement for Dale Davis. Foster has spent all ten of his NBA seasons with the Pacers and has shown nothing but support and pride for the team in that time. Though never a standout player, Foster became one of the league's most underrated rebounders (if not the) and is still a coveted piece among contenders, and hopefully can remain that when the Pacers return to prominence.

Also in 1999, the Pacers did something they hadn't done to that point, making a play at a top five pick in the 1999 draft, a high schooler named Jonathan Bender, had high expectations as a future franchise player for Indiana. Unfortunately, Bender never reached that level in his seven NBA seasons, largely due to chronic knee injuries, but remains a humanitarian all-star with his efforts in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
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