The Pacers don't have either of their original draft picks this year. The No. 11 pick went to Atlanta to complete last summer's Al Harrington trade, and the No. 42 pick went to Portland as part of last year's draft-night deal to acquire the rights to Cincinnati swingman James White, who was subsequently waived. This is the first time they've entered the NBA Draft without a selection. They did not have first-round picks in 2003, 2001, 1990 and 1980. They haven't used a Lottery pick since selecting Austin Croshere at No. 12 in 1997.
Last year's draft-night deal with Portland, in which the Pacers dealt two second-round picks to acquire the No. 31 selection used for White, was the first for the Pacers on draft night since 2001, when they dealt a 2003 first-round pick to Atlanta for the No. 27 pick, Jamaal Tinsley. In 1999, they made two deals, sending Antonio Davis to Toronto for the No. 5 pick, Jonathan Bender, and dealing No. 26 pick Vonteego Cummings and a future first-rounder to Golden State for No. 21 pick Jeff Foster.
If the Pacers want to make a deal to get into the draft, the most likely trade partners are the six teams with multiple first-round picks, led by Philadelphia with three (Nos. 12, 21 and 30). Atlanta (3 and 11), Charlotte (8 and 22), Chicago (9 and 23), Detroit (15 and 27) and Phoenix (24 and 29) have two picks each.
Even if they don't acquire a pick, the Pacers are well-stocked with young talent. They have four first-round picks from the previous three drafts (Shawne Williams at No. 17 in 2006, Ike Diogu at No. 9 and Danny Granger at No. 17 in 2005 and David Harrison at No. 29 in 2004), and currently have nine players of age 27 or younger on their roster (the aforementioned four plus Marquis Daniels, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Orien Greene, Rawle Marshall and Troy Murphy).
Though there may be a local perception the Pacers consciously avoid drafting players from Indiana University, the numbers don't support the theory. The Pacers have drafted four players from I.U. (Wayne Radford in 1978, Jim Thomas and Tony Brown in 1983 and Damon Bailey in 1994). Only three other schools have produced as many Pacers picks: Kentucky (Wil Jones in 1976, Rick Robey in 1978, Tom Heitz in 1984 and Mark Pope in 1996); Oregon State (Ricky Lee in 1978, Ricky Blume in 1981, Steve Woodside in 1986 and Haskin); and UCLA (Stuart Gray and Ralph Jackson in 1984, and Montel Hatcher and some guy named Miller in 1987).
In the interest of equal time, the Pacers have selected two Purdue products, Tom Scheffler (1977) and Mike Scearce (1982), and one each from Notre Dame (Rich Branning in 1980), Butler (Lynn Michem in 1983), Ball State (Ray McCallum in 1983) and Evansville (Brad Leaf in 1982).
The team's most common first-round draft position is No. 14 four times (Herb Williams in 1981, Malik Sealy in 1992, Scott Haskin in 1993 and Fred Jones in 2002). Close behind is No. 2 three times (Steve Stipanovich in 1983, Wayman Tisdale in 1985 and Rik Smits in 1988). They've never held the No. 1 overall pick.
Though franchise CEO & President Donnie Walsh is a graduate and loyal alumnus of North Carolina and has overseen the team's drafts since 1986, he has never selected a Tar Heels player for the Pacers. Walsh has, however, selected a player from rival Duke (Thomas Hill in 1993). The only UNC player drafted by the Pacers was Dudley Bradley in 1979. The Pacers have selected as many players from Augustana, Briar Cliff, Jersey City State, Kenyon College and Philadelphia Textile as they have from North Carolina.
International players have not played a major role for the Pacers on draft night. The only player drafted from a foreign province by the Pacers was Slovenian Primoz Brezec (No. 27 overall in 2000), who emerged as a solid starter after going to Charlotte in the 2004 expansion draft. Smits, drafted out of Marist College in 1988, is a native of The Netherlands. Their 2005 second-round pick was forward Erazem Lorbek, a Slovenian native who attended Michigan State. Lorbek has spent the past two seasons playing in Europe.
The Pacers have used just one of their own selections on a high school player, taking Harrington at No. 25 overall in 1998, though they made the trade for Bender in 1999.
Kevin Durant (Texas) and Greg Oden (Ohio State) became the first freshmen selected to the AP All-America First Team since 1990. Since freshmen became eligible to play in 1972, only two other freshmen have received these honors -- Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma in 1983 and Chris Jackson of LSU in 1990. Oden is the first Ohio State All-America selection in college basketball since Jim Jackson in 1992. Alando Tucker and Acie Law were Wisconsin's and Texas', respectively, first-ever AP All-America First Team selections. Aaron Afflalo became the first UCLA hoopster since Ed O'Bannon in 1995 to garner AP All-America First Team honors.
Of the 60 players that were drafted in 2006, 15 spent time in D-League this past season, the second in which NBA teams were allowed to assign players. They ranged from the ninth overall pick (Patrick O’Bryant) to the 60th pick (Will Blalock). Thirty players from the past two drafts were assigned to D-League affiliates. In all, 24 players were assigned to D-League teams from NBA rosters last season.
There were eight college seniors selected in the first round of the 2006 draft. Of the 30 players selected in the first round, 15 had at least three years of experience on the collegiate level. Twenty-two went to college for at least two years.
NBA teams continue to find quality players in the second round of the NBA Draft. Of the 30 players chosen in the second round of the 2006 draft, 19 played in the NBA this past season. Nine other players have their rights held by NBA teams. Only two players – Denham Brown and J.R. Pinnock – were cut by their respective teams in training camp. Minnesota’s Craig Smith (36th) and Utah’s Paul Millsap (47th) each earned All-Rookie Second Team honors.
The last team to win back-to-back NCAA titles before the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007 was the Duke Blue Devils in 1991 and 1992. In the 1992 NBA Draft, the Blue Devils had two players drafted – Christian Laettner (Minnesota, 3rd) and Brian Davis (Phoenix, 48th). Florida’s Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah figure to be selected in the first round of the 2007 draft. Taurean Green, should he keep his name in the draft, figures to be selected in the second round.
Portsmouth Still Matters: Last year, 10 players parlayed their visit to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament into a spot in the NBA, including: David Noel (North Carolina) of Milwaukee, Chris Quinn (Notre Dame) and Robert Hite (Miami) of Miami, Jose Juan Barea (Northeastern) of Dallas, Steve Novak (Marquette) of Houston, Tarence Kinsey (South Carolina) of Memphis, Bobby Jones (Washington) of Philadelphia, Justin Williams (Wyoming) of Sacramento, Solomon Jones (South Florida) of Atlanta and Mike Hall (George Washington) of Washington.
Last year, the Toronto Raptors won the lottery and chose Italy’s Andrea Bargnani with the top pick, but it was Portland’s Brandon Roy, the sixth overall selection, who garnered NBA Rookie of the Year honors. The last top overall pick to win Rookie of the Year was LeBron James in 2003-04. Since 1996, only four players – Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand (shared honors with Steve Francis) and James – have gone on to win Rookie of the Year.
As the draft continues to get deeper each year, more “first-round talents” get pushed into the second round. While the second round affords no guarantees, teams have taken to the idea of giving a three-year contract, at a reasonable price, to players they feel may have slipped through the cracks and have great potential. A three-year deal allows the team to secure the player’s “Bird rights,” meaning they can exceed the salary cap in order to re-sign him. In 2001, the Golden State Warriors nabbed Gilbert Arenas in the second round, but only signed him to a two-year deal, and were unable to match the offer sheet he signed with Washington in 2003.
Eight players from this year’s National Championship game stand a good chance of being drafted. Florida’s Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah and Taurean Green, and Ohio State’s Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook and Ron Lewis could all hear their names called on June 28. In recent years, the National Championship game has been heavily populated with future draft picks the same year. In 2005, four players from North Carolina (Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants) went in the lottery, while Illinois’ Deron Williams and Luther Head each went in the first round. In 2003, Carmelo Anthony of Syracuse and Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison of Kansas were all drafted in the lottery. In 2002, Maryland’s Chris Wilcox, Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter joined Indiana’s Jared Jeffries as draft picks.
In the early days, the draft used to last as long as teams desired, with the proceedings ending only when every team tired of calling out names. As of 1973, the draft lasted an amazing 20 rounds (at least it did for the fledgling Buffalo Braves, who needed all the players they could get after winning only 21 games the season before). In 1974, the league adopted a 10-round NBA Draft, a format that stayed in place until 1985, when it was scaled back to seven rounds. After three years of seven-round drafts, the draft was shaved to three rounds in 1988 and to its current length of two rounds in 1989.