The last time a team has reached the conference finals without a single player selected in the top 8 of the NBA draft were the San Antonio Spurs in 1983, who were led by George Gervin. The Indiana Pacers have now ended the 30 year wait, having only two top-10 players in their active roster in these playoffs, D.J. Augustin and Paul George, telling a little bit about the clever way this team has been built over the last few years.
It tells of a good eye for players, and a pretty impressive player development program for anyone involved with the Pacers, who have reached the postseason three straight years, and have made the conference finals for the first time since 2004, when they lost to the Detroit Pistons in six games despite home court advantage.
D.J. Augustin, 9th overall in 2008
Augustin is one of the few players not selected by the Indiana Pacers; he came into the league after two years in Texas, averaging 19.2 points per game during his sophomore year. He played for the Bobcats during his first four years in the league, being a full-time starter on his last two. He averaged 4.7 points in 16.1 minutes per game this season.
Paul George, 10th overall in 2010
Paul George needed only two years with Fresno State to know it’s time to enter the NBA, averaging 16.8 points during his Sophomore season. He’s been developing nicely in the league, turning into one of the best defenders and and a highly improved (yet inconsistent scorer), averaging 17.4 points per game this season.
Tyler Hansbrough, 13th overall in 2009
You can’t ask for a better college career than what Hansbrough had with North Carolina, averaging 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds through his four seasons at Chapel Hill, winning the national title before leaving to the NBA. For the Pacers he’s been a dirty-work, energy kind of guy since joining the league, averaging 7 points in 16.9 minutes per game this season
Danny Granger, 17th overall in 2005
Granger was the star for the Pacers since 2007 until this year, in which he missed almost all of it due to an injury, not playing in the playoffs. He played for Bradley and New Mexico during his college years, averaging 18.8 points during his senior season.
Roy Hibbert, 17th overall in 2008
Hibbert was never a big offensive star, but his offense has shined in the playoffs, not to mention his excellent defense. He averaged 11.9 points per game this season for Indiana, also making his first All-Star game. During four years in Georgetown he scored 10.9 points per game.
David West, 18th overall pick in 2003
Some say he’s the real secret to the Pacers’ success this season. West averaged 17.1 points per game in a much improved second season with the Pacers after arriving from New Orleans. He scored 20.1 points per game during his senior year in college, playing for Xavier.
Gerald Green, 18th overall in 2005
Green hasn’t been doing much in these playoffs, averaging 13 minutes in 7 games so far. He was selected by the Boston Celtics almost 8 years ago, and has gone through a European tour before returning to the NBA with a bang. Green came straight out of high school
George Hill, 26th overall in 2006
Hill came into the league after playing four years for IUPI, averaging 21.5 points per game during his senior year. After three years of mostly being a backup with the Spurs, he joined the Pacers to become a starter for the first time. He played more minutes than ever before this season, averaging 34.5 minutes a night, scoring a career high 14.2 points per game.
Ian Mahinmi, 28th overall in 2005
Mahinmi is another player who came into the league through the Spurs, but hardly played for them during his time there. He reached the league only in 2007 and passed through Dallas before reaching Indiana. He came to the NBA straight from France.
Jeff Pendergraph, 31st overall in 2009
Pendergraph, as you might have guessed, hasn’t been a big part of the setup for either the Portland Trail Blazers (who drafted him in 2009) or the Pacers over the last couple of seasons, playing a total of 66 minutes in this postseason. He played for Arizona State four years, averaging 14.5 point during his senior season.
Sam Young, 36th overall pick in 2009
Young has been through Memphis and Philadelphia, but has never been more than a bench players. He averaged 12.4 minutes per game this season for Indiana, playing even less during the playoffs. He was a big star for Pitt during his last couple of years with the team, averaging 19.2 points per game his senior season.
Orlando Johnson, 36th overall in 2012
The rookie out of UCSB hasn’t really made an impact this season, getting 12.1 minutes a night during the regular season and 2.7 minutes per game in 7 playoff games. He averaged 17.8 points per game in his college career.
Lance Stephenson, 40th overall pick in 2010
Might turn out to be a huge steal, and probably already is. He became a starter for the first time in his third NBA season, averaging 8.8 points per game on 27.2 minutes a night, making the most of Granger being injured. He’s been even better in the playoffs (34.1 minutes, 9.8 points). He played only one year in college with the Bearcats, averaging 12.3 points per game.
Undrafted – Ben Hansbrough