INDIANA PACERS

Cohen’s Analysis: It was just four years ago when the Pacers were generally forgotten and constantly scrutinized for a rapid decline following Reggie Miller’s retirement and the deterioration of former perennial All-Star Jermaine O’Neal.

However, spearheaded by Larry Bird and his eye for talent, Indiana gradually overcame all the denigration.

It started with a surprising, yet rewarding decision to draft Danny Granger in 2005. And while Granger’s success denied the Pacers from ever having a top five draft pick, they still managed to “out-smart” the competition in the draft. They acquired Roy Hibbert from the Raptors as part of the O’Neal trade in 2008 and took a chance on a relatively unknown prodigy out of Fresno State in 2010, Paul George.

Together with the free agent signing of David West in 2011, Indiana’s brilliant draft judgments have allowed it to transform into a top five team today.

WHAT PACERS PROVED: You don’t need to necessarily have a top five draft pick or be in a super market to stack up on All-Star talent.

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