SB Nation is marching through the offseason with "What if...? Day" today where we contemplate a situation from the team's past which could have altered the franchise had it turned out differently. It could be a play in a key game, an injury or a front office decision (or a mind-numbing decision from a strong small forward to run into the stands and...never mind, not going there).
So before I begin, let me implore you to share your "What if..." moments in the comments. If you are so inclined, extend those comments to a FanPost we can share with the class. There have certainly been plenty of franchise altering moments over the past 15 years, but I'm sticking with the present squad.
The Pacers' long slog through rebuilding during the late aughts suddenly shifted from a glimmer of hope to competing for a championship thanks to some shrewd moves by the front office. But the key to making the rapid jump toward the top of the Eastern Conference was Larry Bird swinging for the fences during the 2010 draft.
What if the Pacers played it safe with a more experienced college player and didn't draft Paul George and then take a chance on Lance Stephenson in the second round? I recall thinking Ekpe Udoh or Ed Davis would be a reasonable and safe pick (pre-David West mind you) at the time for the Pacers. Udoh was taken before the Pacers picked, but Davis was available. Instead, Bird took a flyer on the raw talent of PG and thanks to his development now have a talented, title-contending core of players for the present and future.
Here are some more "What ifs" to ponder with regard to the current makeup of the team.
What if Danny Granger didn't workout with Paul George prior to the draft and give his thumbs up recommendation?
What if the Pacers passed on Tyler Hansbrough in 2009 and drafted Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson or Jeff Teague?
What if Danny Granger was able to play 70 games and the playoffs last year?
What if David West didn't have a severe knee injury?
What if the O.J. Mayo near trade actually went through?
I know I'm just scratching the surface here, so please jump in and offer your thoughts on these questions and more.