When I first saw that SB Nation had ranked the Indiana Pacers’ Larry Bird as the worst GM in the entire NBA, I was kind of surprised. For one thing, he hasn’t continued to spend money on stupid contracts like David Kahn in Minnesota. In fact, he has been busy the past few seasons trying to get the Pacers out from under the contracts of Jermaine O’Neal and Jamal Tinsley. While the pacers still have a year to go in that process, they are at least on their way out of the financial hole they have dug for themselves.
Then I saw Bird’s draft record.
By Travis Miller, Hammer and Rails.com, SB Nation’s Purdue blog
The Pacers are famous for swinging and missing when it comes to the NBA Draft. While Danny Granger has been a big hit, the rest of Bird’s draft record has been atrocious. Here are his following picks since taking over in 2003:
2003: James Jones – A nice second round selection hat made a name for himself with playing time as a result of the Brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills. he was Indiana’s only pick in 2003. He was traded to Phoenix in 2005 and will be a key reserve with the Heat this year.
2004: David Harrison – Harrison only played in 189 games over four seasons and averaged five points per game. He is now playing for the Beijing Ducks. He also was one of many players who had an off the court incident with a five game drug suspension. The Pacers could have drafted Anderson Varejao, who went one pick later to Orlando.
Rashad Wright – A second round selection who never made the roster and is now playing in Germany.
2005: Danny Granger – A fantastic pick. One of Bird’s few positive selections.
Erazem Lorbek – As usual, the Pacers threw away their second round pick on an unproven European player who is still playing in Europe for FC Barcelona. He may finally join the Pacers this coming season.
2006: Shawne Williams – This pick was an unmitigated disaster. Williams played in only 111 games with six starts in two seasons. He averaged 5.2 points per game and was traded to Dallas before the 2008-09 season. He also a drug arrest (possession of marijuana), had another issue in which an associate was charged with a crime while driving his car, and has since had two more drug charges. His most recent arrest was on July 24th. To make matters worse, the pacers are still in search of a point guard and Rajon Rando was taken four picks later.
Alexander Johnson – Johnson was traded on draft night to Memphis, where he started 16 games before moving to Miami in 2007-08. He is now trying to make the Rockets’ roster. Indiana ended up also trading its second round pick for each of the next two seasons for James White, who never made the roster and played briefly for the Spurs before going to Europe.
2007: Indiana did not have a single pick in this draft, but traded for the rights to Stanko Barac. Their first round pick was dealt to Atlanta with Al Harrington. The 7’1” Barac is still playing in Europe.
2008: Jerryd Bayless – Bayless is emerging as a key reserve playing critical minutes… in Portland. He was traded on draft night with Ike Diogu for Brandon Rush, Jarrett jack, and Josh McRoberts. Rush has disappointed, but started 64 games last season. Jack was allowed to walk as a free agent to Toronto after just one season. McRoberts is a hometown guy from nearby Carmel, but has averaged 3.3 points in 83 games and 3 starts.
Nathan Jawal – Jawal is a 6’10” center that was traded to Toronto when the Pacers got rid of Jermaine O’Neal. He never played a game in Indiana.
2009: Tyler Hansbrough – Hansbrough was all-everything in college, but injuries troubled his rookie season. E appeared in only 29 games, but averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. There is still time for him, but a point guard like Eric Maynor might have been a better pick.
A.J. Price – The Pacers have gotten good value out of Price. As a rookie second round pick he appeared in 56 games with two starts and averaged 7.3 points per game. Those aren’t fantastic numbers, but considering he is the first second rounder to actually see the floor for the Pacers since 2003 they aren’t bad.
2010: Paul George – Any time you can draft a second team All-WAC selection 10th overall you have to do it (sarcasm). George wouldn’t be a bad pick of the Pacers didn’t already have Hansbrough, Granger, Mike Dunleavy, Dhantay Jones, and Troy Murphy as players just like him. A proven power forward like Trevor Booker just made too much sense, apparently.
Lance Stephenson – He’s another swingman, but the Pacers (who have been defensively challenged) could have selected defensive specialist Jarvis Varnado. It is a shock that they didn’t selected yet another overrated white forward with Luke Harangody to go with Murphy, Hansbrough, and Dunleavy.
Ryan Reid – With three picks in the draft and a glaring need at point guard the Pacers chose two forwards and a shooting guard. Reid was traded on draft night to Oklahoma City for Magnum Rolle, yet another forward.
As you can see, Bird’s draft record is suspect at best. Many praised him for the Danny Granger selection, but he has missed on numerous other selections and the Pacers are in the midst of their worst stretch of basketball since the mid-1980’s. The local media is already projecting 2010-11 as a make or break year, but there is little evidence this team can even make the playoffs, let alone contend.