Indiana Pacers Draft Central: A 20-Year History of the 26th Pick

Apr 6, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers general manager David Morway (front row left) , team owner Herb Simon (front row right) forward Jeff Foster (back row left) and team president Larry Bird (back row right) watch the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Oklahoma City 103-98. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

With the annual accusations of David Stern's lottery fixing in full force, it's officially time to direct our Blue-and-Gold attention to the NBA draft upcoming on June 28th. Much of IC nation has already started the decision-making process regarding who the next favored son to join Indy shall be. Some have even been doing so since before the 2011-2012 season began. Once a draft junkie always a draft junkie, I guess. With the draft process still in its infancy, it's difficult to pinpoint the type of talent that will be available around the Pacers' pick come draft night, so I won't try to mock it out. I did, however, decide to do a little digging to see the type of player that has been available at 26 in the past, and to be honest, the results aren't all that surprising: some good, some bad, and some in between. If you're interested, take a look after the jump to see how other teams have fared in the 26th slot...

Pick

Year

Player

College

Team

26

2011

Jordan Hamilton

Texas

Mavericks

26

2010

Quincy Pondexter

Washington

Thunder

26

2009

Taj Gibson

USC

Bulls

26

2008

George Hill

IUPUI

Spurs

26

2007

Aaron Brooks

Oregon

Rockets

26

2006

Jordan Farmar

UCLA

Lakers

26

2005

Jason Maxiell

Cincinnati

Pistons

26

2004

Tony Allen

Oklahoma St.

Celtics

26

2003

Ndubi Ebi

High School Sr.

TWolves

26

2002

John Salmons

Miami

Spurs (to 76ers)

26

2001

Samuel Dalembert

Seton Hall

76ers

26

2000

Mamadou N'diaye

Auburn

Nuggets

26

1999

Vonteego Cummings

Pittsburgh

Pacers (traded to Warriors for rights to Jeff Foster)

26

1998

Sam Jacobson

Minnesota

Lakers

26

1997

Charles Smith

New Mexico

Heat

26

1996

Jerome Williams

Georgetown

Pistons

26

1995

Sherell Ford

Illinois-Chicago

Supersonics

26

1994

Charlie Ward

Florida St.

Knickerbockers

26

1993

Geert Hammink

LSU

Magic

26

1992

David Johnson

Syracuse

Trailblazers

The Good

Well, it appears teams in the modern NBA have done a much better job of identifying talent late in the first round. From 2000 to 2009, only one player (Ebi) failed to last three seasons in the NBA. Hamilton and Pondexter are obviously still "pending" prospects that require more time to determine their roster impact. Hill, Brooks, Gibson, Dalembert, Allen, and Salmons have all played meaningful roles on their respective teams, with some even parlaying solid play into consistent starting jobs. This type of trend bodes well for a franchise that has recently gained much praise for its ability to ascertain productive talent in less-than-ideal drafting circumstances (late lottery to mid-first-round purgatory).

Besides appallingly unfortunate incidents such as mass bowl haircuts and the one-ear styled earring, what was wrong with the 1990s? Specifically, what was wrong with NBA teams drafting in the late first round? From '92-'99, only Charlie Ward, Jerome Williams, and Charles Smith lasted more than three seasons. No one in the 90's class of 26th picks averaged double-figures in any statistical category. Either the 90s provided a dearth of late first round talent, or 90's scouting left much to be desired, because finding that late-round producer proved to be quite an elusive task. No matter the answer, based upon the recent aforementioned trends, Pacer fans ought to be hopeful of their team finding the next George Hill at 26 rather than having to ask what in the world a Geert Hammink is supposed to be.

The Bad

For those hoping to find that desired Pacers' superstar to pit against the likes of LebWade, it ain't happening at 26. Best case scenario is likely a bench sparkplug/fringe starter (after development) who will add another decent tool to a roster packed full of solid, but unspectacular parts. Will that be enough by itself to get this team in a position to truly contend as early as next season? No.

What to Do

So, what should the Pacers do? Should they keep the pick? Try to find a solid contributor in the mold of George Hill, Taj Gibson, etc? Should they take a chance on a project? Should they package the pick with something else to try and speed up the flight toward championship contention? What say ye IC nation?

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