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Jermaine O'Neal (left), Reggie Miller (center), & Mark Jackson. (Getty)

NBA

From the ABA to the NBA: The 25 greatest Indiana Pacers of all time

The Indiana Pacers hold a rich history of hustle, effort, and tough defense. Here, we'll honor the 25 greatest players in franchise history.

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Jermaine O'Neal (left), Reggie Miller (center), & Mark Jackson. (Getty)

Jermaine O'Neal (left), Reggie Miller (center), & Mark Jackson. (Getty)

Even though they've yet to win an NBA championship, the Indiana Pacers are a historical franchise of the Eastern Conference. They've been around since the ABA days, winning 3 trophies in that competition. 

Needless to say, the Pacers have had their fair share of legendary players on their ranks, and plenty of them stayed loyal to the organization for most of their careers. Today, we're going to honor those great talents by letting you know about the top 25 players in Indiana Pacers' history.

Honorable Mention: Roy Hibbert, Troy Murphy, Lance Stephenson, Brad Miller, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Steve Stipanovich, Wayman Tisdale, Travis Best, Al Harrington

25. Chuck Person - SF

Person scored 13,858 career points. (Getty)

Stats: 14.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
Accolades: All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year
Championships: 0

Chuck Person was often overlooked by his opposition and that was a huge mistake. He was an outstanding shooter that could get hot in the blink of an eye, as well as one of the harshest trash-talkers you'll ever find. Besides his contributions as an instant-offense kind of guy, Pacers fans also love him for constantly getting in Larry Bird's face.

24. Don Buse - PG

Buse retired in 1985. (Getty)

Stats: 7.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.6 APG
Accolades: 2x All-Star, All-ABA, 6x All-Defensive, 1x Steals Leader, 1x Assists Leader
Championships: 1 (ABA)

Don Buse wasn't elegant or flashy but he was the true definition of a point guard. He was a floor general, an extension of the coach on the hardwood, and the very first point guard in Pacers history (in the NBA). He was a defensive stalwart who could pile up assists and steals at a high rate, although he wasn't much of a scorer.

23. Vern Fleming - PG

Fleming retired in France. (Getty)

Stats: 11.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG
Accolades: NA
Championships: 0

Vern Fleming was the kind of player whose impact just doesn't reflect in the stat sheet. He was a hound on the defensive end, a very smart player who often made the right place, and a guy who always took good care of the basketball. He wasn't going to make the highlights with his craftiness or athleticism, but he was a competitor and a guy who played the right way.

22. Billy Knight - SG/SF

Knight attended Pittsburgh University. (Getty)

Stats: 16.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.3 APG
Accolades: 3x All-Star, All-ABA, All-Rookie
Championships: 0

Billy Knight is perhaps the unluckiest player in Pacers' history. He made the team right after their 3 championships and could barely be a part of a winning squad throughout his career with the franchise. However, he still holds the record for the highest scoring average in a season franchise history (26.6 PPG in 1976-77) and was a walking bucket during his two tenures with the Pacers.

21. Clark Kellogg - PF

Kellogg is currently a basketball analyst. (Getty)

Stats: 18.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.9 APG
Accolades: All-Rookie
Championships: 0

Clark Kellogg was a walking bucket during his brief career in the NBA. Sadly, he could never reach his ceiling due to constant knee injuries that forced him out of the hardwood and to the broadcasting booth. He was smart and efficient, but played in one of the worst tenures in franchise history.

20. Danny Granger - SF

Granger retired with the Heat. (Getty)

Stats: 16.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG
Accolades: 1x All-Star, All-Rookie, Most Improved Player
Championships: 0

Long before Paul George took over as the biggest scoring threat the Pacers had ever seen, the team had Danny Granger. Granger was a prolific and efficient scorer from all three levels and he could also hold his own in the defensive end of the floor. Sadly, injuries got the best of him and he could never fulfill his Hall-of-Fame looking career.

19. Jalen Rose - SG

Rose was drafted 13th overall. (Getty)

Stats: 14.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.8 APG
Accolades: All-Rookie, Most Improved Player
Championships: 0

He gets a lot of criticism on social media for his comments nowadays but make no mistake, Jalen Rose was a hooper. He could pile up assists and steals and a high rate and was a streaky scorer and a steady contributor throughout his entire career. He could do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor.

18. Dale Davis - PF/C

He's not related to Antonio Davis. (Getty)

Stats: 8.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 0.9 APG
Accolades: 1x All-Star
Championships: 0

Obviously, we couldn't leave one half of the Davis Boys outside of this list. Dale Davis was a hustler, a guy that could never be out-worked, and that would much rather lose a leg than give up an easy bucket. He was never much of an offensive factor but he made up for it with his grittiness and determination to lockdown the rival's best scorer in every single possession.

17. Derrick McKey - SF/PF

McKey was drafted by the Supersonics. (Getty)

Stats: 11.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.4 APG
Accolades: 2x All-Defensive, All-Rookie
Championships: 0

Derrick McKey wasn't on the court because of his flashy moves or his shooting skills but he earned every single one of his minutes because of how much of a lockdown defender he was. He was often in charge of guarding Michael Jordan or even young stars like Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett. There was no getting past him when he was in his prime, or not without paying the price, at least.

16. Detlef Schrempf - SF/PF

Schrempf was born in Leverkusen. (Getty)

Stats: 13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG
Accolades: 3x All-Star, All-NBA, 2x Sixth Man of the Year
Championships: 0

Even though he's mostly remembered as a Seattle Supersonics great, Detlef Schrempf A.K.A The Grand Teuton was also pretty solid as a member of the Pacers when they were that underdog team no one wanted to face in the first round of the playoffs. He was as versatile and skilled as they come, a guy capable of impacting both ends of the floor and filling up the stat sheet.

15. Billy Keller - PG/SG

Keller retired in 1976. (NBA)

Stats: 11.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.6 APG
Accolades: NA 
Championships: 3 (ABA)

Billy Keller's career stats may be unimpressive but he was one of Indiana's most beloved guys ever since his days at Purdue. He played a huge part in all 3 championships thanks to his sharpshooting skills and there was a time when he was known as the best shooter in the ABA. He even went a perfect 30 for 30 from the line during one season, although the sample size puts an asterisk on that record.

14. Ron Artest - SF

He's now known as Metta Sandiford-Artest. (Getty)

Stats: 13.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.7 APG
Accolades: 1x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, All-Rookie, 4x All-Defensive, Defensive Player of the Year
Championships: 1

Later known as Metta World Peace and Panda Friend, Ron Artest became an NBA legend for his role in the mythical altercation between Pacers and Pistons: 'Malice in the Palace'. Artest was a thug in the defensive end of the floor as he could guard one through five and wouldn't hesitate to get on everybody's face, maybe even too much. He's one of the greatest defenders of all time and was also a solid three-point shooter.

13. Herb Williams - PF/C

Williams attended Ohio State University. (Getty)

Stats: 10.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.7 APG
Accolades: NA
Championships: 0

Herb Williams retired as one of the franchise's all-time leaders in points, blocks, rebounds, and games, so he definitely belongs on this list. While not the biggest or more athletic player, he always delivered when called upon and was as reliable and durable as they come. He could play at both forward spots or even as a center and guard multiple positions as well.

12. Jeff Foster

Foster spent his entire career with the Pacers. (Getty)

Stats: 4.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 0.9 APG 
Accolades: 0
Championships: 0

Jeff Foster, A.K.A, the white Dennis Rodman. All jokes aside, Foster was a beast when it came to dominate the glass, especially offensive rebounds. He made a living out of giving his team multiple second-chance opportunities night in and night out. He was a bruiser and a guy that would never doubt to put his body on the line regardless of the scoreboard, the rival, or anything else. 

11. Antonio Davis - PF/C

Davis retired with the Raptors. (Getty)

Stats: 10.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 APG
Accolades: 1x All-Star
Championships: 0

The most skilled of the Davis Boys is also one of the most beloved players in Pacers' history. Antonio Davis was a better scorer and ball-handler than Dale, but put together, there weren't many frontcourts in the league that could get an easy bucket. Antonio was a great shot-blocker and rebounder and one of the greatest steals in the history of the Draft, as he was taken with the 45th overall pick.

10. David West - PF

West also played for the Hornets, Spurs, and Warriors. (Getty)

Stats: 13.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.2 APG
Accolades: 2x All-Star
Championships: 2

David West made it to the Pacers after breaking out for the Hornets and instantly embraced a leadership role at Indy. He was a class act on and off the court, and a tough competitor night in and night out. His footwork was beautiful to watch in the post and he was money from mid-range until the very end of his career. His grittiness and competitiveness were contagious and his physicality was unmatched.

9. Rik Smits - C

Smits was known as 'The Dunking Dutchman'. (Getty)

Stats: 14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG
Accolades: 1x All-Star, All-Rookie
Championships: 0

Even though you'd expect a 7'4'' big man to be more of a rebounding force, Rik Smits' game was more oriented towards the perimeter. He was smooth, smart, and versatile, and had a shooting ability not many centers have had in the history of the league. Still, once he got to the low post, he could still do plenty of dirty work, as he proved by handling the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Patrick Ewing.

8. Paul George - SF

George was traded to the Thunder. (Getty)

Stats: 20.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG
Accolades: 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive, All-Rookie, Most Improved Player, 1x Steals Leader
Championships: 0

Paul George was a lock to have his jersey retired by the Pacers before forcing his way out of the team. He's the most talented player in the history of the franchise and was their only hope vs. LeBron James in the East during the Big 3 era in Miami. He's got the talent to be a perennial MVP and Defensive Player of the Year every season, but he may not be much of a favorite among Pacers fans anymore.

7. Mark Jackson - PG

Jackson later became a coach and TV analyst. (Getty)

Stats: 9.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 8.0 APG
Accolades: 1x All-Star, All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year, 1x Assists Leader
Championships: 0

Mark Jackson is known nowadays for putting together the building blocks of the Golden State Warriors' dynasty but long before that, he was an electrifying  playmaker that piled up assists at a high rate, as well as a solid defender. He wasn't the most athletic player you'd see, but he was tough and above all things, pretty smart.

6. Jermaine O'Neal - PF/C

O'Neal was drafted straight out of high school. (Getty)

Stats: 13.2 PPG,  7.2 RPG, 1.4 APG
Accolades: 6x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, Most Improved Player
Championships: 0

Young fans may not remember him but there was a time when Jermaine O'Neal was simply unstoppable. He was a dominant force on both ends of the floor and a guy nobody could contain below the rim. He made the All-Star Game with the Pacers after anchoring their defense for years and is considered by fans as the greatest big man in the history of the franchise.

5. Roger Brown - SF

Brown signed his first contract at 25 years old. (Getty)

Stats: 17.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.8 APG
Accolades: 4x All-Star, 3x All-ABA, ABA All-Time Team, Hall of Famer
Championships: 3 (ABA)

Roger Brown was good and I can't stretch this enough. Roger Brown was pretty, pretty good. So good that he was compared to Elgin Baylor even despite starting his career late. Brown could score from all over the court, dunk on every defender on earth, and was just so crafty and quick with and without the ball that opposing defenses just had no answer for him.

4. Freddie Lewis - PG

Lewis was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals. (Getty)

Stats: 16.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.0 APG
Accolades: 3x All-Star, All-Star MVP, ABA All-Time Team
Championships: 3 (ABA)

Freddie Lewis won one Playoffs MVP award with the Pacers and that accolade pretty much summed up his career. He was versatile and could do it all when it mattered the most, learning most of his skills from Oscar Robertson himself. However, when things got hard, he turned into the best player on the court and it wasn't even close.

3. George McGinnis - PF

McGinnis scored over 17,000 career points. (Getty)

Stats: 20.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.7 APG
Accolades: 6x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 3x All-ABA, All-Rookie, ABA All-Time Team, Hall of Famer
Championships: 2 (ABA)

Even though most young fans may have never heard of him, George McGinnis was one of the most dominant players in his time. He was the heart and soul of the Indiana Pacers during their time in the ABA, a prolific scorer with a great feel for getting offensive rebounds thanks to his high-flying skills and long arms. Next to Mel Daniels, he made the Pacers one of the driving forces of the ABA.

2. Mel Daniels

Daniels was the ABA's all-time rebounding leader. (Getty)

Stats: 18.4 PPG, 14.9 RPG, 1.8 APG
Accolades: 7x All-Star, 5x All-ABA, All-Rookie, All-Star MVP, 2x ABA MVP Rookie of the Year, ABA All-Time Team, Hall of Famer
Championships: 3 (ABA)

Mel Daniels played a major role in every single one of the Pacers' ABA Championships. He immediately turned the franchise around and won a couple of MVPs as the team's anchor on both ends of the floor. Even if his name isn't brought up often because he never actually played in the NBA, he still has a place as one of the greatest big men ever.

1. Reggie Miller - SG

Miller shot 39.5% from three. (Getty)

Stats: 18.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG
Accolades: 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, Hall of Famer
Championships: 0

And, obviously, no other player has even come close to what Reggie Miller meant to this organization. He was loyal to them even if he could have joined a contender, and rather tried to make them a powerhouse on his own. Miller was the first player to efficiently and consistently become a threat from the three-point line and his game could perfectly translate to today's offense. Miller could never lead them to an NBA championship but he put his heart and soul every single night out there.

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