With the trade deadline less than a month away, this site has been pretty hot with potential franchise-saving solutions that will put fans back in the seats at the Fieldhouse. I will admit, I've been a contributor to the party - mainly for fun. It would be silly of me to think I have enough intelligence to truly know what the Pacers need, who's available, and how a deal could realistically go down. That's why I chose a different career path long ago and have left it up to the professionals.
Larry Bird is our professional! That's a positive or negative depending on who you ask. He's a polarizing figure in Indy and deserves a lot of credit for putting strong character guys as well as skilled basketball players on this roster after "you know what" happened. I would lean toward the positive, and would like to input my two cents as to why he's done a commendable job during his tenure as President of Basketball Operations for the Blue and Gold.
I realize there are several aspect of his job, but for sake of a long FanPost, I'll only target his work at drafting young players.
Since 2004, he's overseen seven first-round picks (one in each year from 2004-2006, zero in 2007, one in 2008, two in 2009, and one in 2010). Let's keep in mind that although he was PBO in title beginning in 2003, he's only had sole control of the decisions since 2008 when Donnie Walsh left. Here are his draft picks:
- 2004: round 1, pick 29 - David Harrison
- 2005: round 1, pick 17 - Danny Granger
- 2006: round 1, pick 17 - Shawne Williams
- 2007: n/a
- 2008: round 1, pick 13 - Brandon Rush; round 2, pick 17 - Roy Hibbert
- 2009: round 1, pick 13 - Tyler Hansbrough
- 2010: round 1, pick 10 - Paul George
While the jury should still be out on a lot of these players considering it's only been seven years, it's a really good list. Bird was able to draft one of the four all-stars in 2005 (Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and David Lee being the other three). Only one player on this list no longer plays in the league (David Harrison). All but two still play for the Pacers. The one who doesn't is in the midst of a career season and is showing signs of maturation both on and off the court (Shawne Williams). The last two drafts have produced players in the top-6 of his respective class in Player Efficiency Rating for this season. Tyler Hansbrough currently ranks sixth behind Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, and DeJuan Blair. Paul George currently has the highest rating of players drafted in 2010 (technically, Blake Griffin is a rookie, so George ranks second).
I think this team has a much brighter future after this season when they rids themselves of a ton of cap space and hire a new coach who can better utilize the talent on the roster. Bird has positioned this team to succeed. We (the fans) may be overreacting a bit by demanding changes be made NOW. It takes patience. Let's give Bird his props for all he's accomplished.
Now, while we patiently wait, let's continue to come up with more ideas on trades that will make this team better!