Pacers enter unfamiliar territory and are due for a win in the draft lottery
The Pacers hope the ping pong balls are in their favor Tuesday night. For the first time since the '80s, their 1st pick will be inside the top 10 — a feat owner Herb Simon is proud of.
CHICAGO — Ahead to the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday night, I can’t help but think about a few memorable quotes from former coach Nate McMillan.
Stuck in my head forever is McMillan stressing the importance of not messing with the basketball Gods and not cheating the game. Play the game the right way and good things will happen.
If that is indeed the case, it sure seems like the Pacers are absolutely due for some good news.
Assistant general manager Kelly Krauskopf agrees. As I reported on here a week ago, she will be on stage Tuesday, representing the Pacers, for the unveiling of the draft order. This event usually is irrelevant for this organization; make the playoffs and you already know your draft positioning by now. Teams that did not, however, fill out the first 14 spots in the draft.
They have a 42.1% chance of securing a top-four pick and a 10.5% shot of landing the coveted No. 1 pick for the first time.
In a team video posted to Twitter on Monday, Krauskopf said, “It's time. The law of averages are on our side. We're due. I have a great feeling about it."
She’s speaking it into existence.
Until 2021, the Pacers had reached the postseason 25 of 31 seasons. And during those 31 seasons, they had posted a winning record at home every single year.
Those remarkable streaks ended last season after the Pacers brought in an entirely new coaching staff, fought countless injuries, had an identity crisis and like the rest of the league, dealt with the pandemic. (Limited practice time was not good when implementing a whole new way of playing after more than a decade.)
Then, this past Pacers season was like your iPhone playing music on repeat. Another new coaching staff, almost 400 games lost due to injury, still a lack of identity and a redirection midseason.
And then they lost more games, ending the 2021-22 season with 10 consecutive losses. At 25-57, the Pacers had the fifth-worst and have set themselves up for their most important draft in decades.
And now the end of another streak, one so incredible that people around the league didn’t believe me when I passed it along.
For the first time since 1989 — before every player and several staff members were born — the Pacers will have a single-digit draft pick.
“I’m proud of that,” Pacers owner Herb Simon said six months ago. “We’ve done pretty well with some (draft picks), some not so well. We’ve done pretty well picking 10 and 11. We want to be as far up in the draft as possible because we want to win as many games as possible.
“I just don’t play the game that way, I just can’t do it. Maybe I’m making (a mistake), maybe I should but I can’t think like that.”