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On draft day, I attended the Indiana Pacers’ draft party in Conseco Fieldhouse. It was a fun night, and that draft was just crazy.

Everyone expected Brandon Knight at the third overall pick to the Utah Jazz, but however, they went with center Enes Kanter. Not too big of a surprise, but the fourth overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers set things off with Tristan Thompson selected, which seemed like quite a reach.

And then guys like Knight, Kemba Walker, and others would fall lower than expected. When the 13th pick rolled by, the picks I wanted were out like Alec Burks and Kemba Walker (yes, I know, but after seeing the picks, I thought Walker could fall). All I could hope for were the Morris twins, Jordan Hamilton, Marshon Brooks, or maybe — just maybe — Kawhi Leonard.

The Phoenix Suns would select Markieff Morris. The 14th pick came and boy was I nervous. I thought the Rockets would take Leonard. However, it would be Marcus Morris!

But then again, who knows if Indiana would select Leonard? I was praying. David Stern would head up to the stand and announce the pick.

“With the 15th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers select Kawhi Leonard.”

Boy, what a feeling that was. I just can’t believe how much a steal that was. It brought back memories when Indiana got a steal in Danny Granger. But questions rose.

What can Indiana do with Granger, Paul George, and Leonard? Can they really get the minutes for all three wings? Surely enough, the Pacers would have to trade one of these guys. I knew it wouldn’t be George, so it had to be either Granger or Leonard.

Will it be the oldest in his prime or the youngest with potential? Larry Bird made the deal, as he traded the whole draft, including some 2005 draft pick that is still overseas, to the San Antonio Spurs for guard George Hill.

You wanna know my reaction? Pissed off. Honestly, yeah, I was pissed. I really liked Leonard. The guy can play shooting guard and small forward, has the size, great hands, and was an excellent rebounder. What pissed me off more is that they even traded the 42nd pick, which ended up being Davis Bertrans (but that pick doesn’t matter to me really because he isn’t coming to the NBA for like three-to-four years).

Hill had about twelve points and three assists for the Spurs as a sixth man last year. I just had the feeling that he would end up like Brandon Rush or something. But I soon began to love the trade and it turned out to be good trade actually.

Many draft experts gave Indiana a grade around a B+ in the draft. Hill is a guy Indiana needs, and I began to realize it. He is one of the few guys on the roster that is able to create their own shot. This guy can make plays and can play some good defense.

Surely enough, he is going to get minutes, mostly playing point guard behind Darren Collison and some shooting guard. Indiana will hopefully have a strong guard rotation with Collison, Hill, A.J. Price, Lance Stephenson, and Rush (if he can be consistent).

Hill is a hometown hero and has dreamed of playing for the Pacers. I think he is going to do great and is my pick for sixth man of the year. I expect great things for the kid.

Welcome back to Indiana, George Hill!

Let’s make next season special.


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