A look into the Indiana Pacers offseason moves, and how their season may unfold.
The Pacers are the team to likely benefit the most from Derrick Rose’s injury – since Rose went #1 overall in 2008 they are only 6-14 vs the Bulls.
The team’s leader and longest tenured player at seven seasons, Danny Granger saw his scoring drop for the fourth consecutive season, but his team’s success improved dramatically as he focussed less on trying to score 25 points a night, and more on defending the other team’s best offensive player.
Alongside Granger on the perimeter was the much improved Paul George, who’s three point stroke and athleticism were key to the Pacers large improvement in the win column this past season.
At a long 6’8”, he used his wingspan to defend shooting guards and small forwards, pairing his length with off the chart athleticism that saw him end up participating in the farce that was this year’s NBA Slam Dunk competition.
His backcourt partner for the majority of the year was Darren Collison, but after an inconsistent season he was shipped to Dallas along with Dahntay Jones, for Ian Mahinmi.
In quite a puzzling move, the Pacers handed out a new $16m four year deal once they traded for him – not bad considering he only posted around 6pts and 5reb a game. In saying that, extrapolate the numbers to 20-25mins he’ll likely get as a backup to big Roy Hibbert and David West and he might be a steal when it’s all said and done.
West came aboard prior to last season after initially leaning towards the Celtics, but after the deal fell through he ended up in Hoosiertown playing for a different Eastern Conference contender – not a bad ‘fall back’ option really.
The two time All Star underachieved individually in what was a shortened season not made for a veteran power forward.
This is a guy who averaged at least 17 points per game and 7.4 rebounds every year for the past six seasons, so his modest numbers of last year may be a sign of things to come, rather than an aberration.
Manning the middle was the vastly improved Roy Hibbert, who enjoyed a career year culminating in his first All Star nod.
This may say more for the drop in the ocean that is the Eastern Conference center position, rather than his improvement, but he did increase his stats in points, rebounds and blocks, and you can’t really ask for more than that.
The Pacers really need him to continue to utilise his massive frame, apart from Andrew Bynum there aren’t many big ole Dinosaurs walking the NBA plains, especially out East.
Hibbert's intimidation factor must increase, as there's no point being a 7'2", 280lb marshmallow. As the old adage goes, you can't teach size, and big Roy has a big enough frame to box out and swat shots effectively night in night out.
An underrated acquisition for the Pacers was diminutive point guard and former lottery pick DJ Augustin.
After peaking two seasons ago, the Bobcats initially extended him a qualifying offer, then rescinded it after deciding to go in a different direction.
He will back-up George Hill but may even challenge for starting minutes, after all he came from a winning college program to the cellar dwellars of the NBA so he has yet to play on a ‘good’ team like the Pacers.
Tyler Hansborough gives the team a classic banger off the bench, a real blue chipper who looks like he should be in a choir rather than battling down in the paint.
Gerald Green rode his hot hand for the Nets last season, his calling card as always is hot/cold shooting and arguably the best in-game alley oop dunk of the last 20 years vs the Rockets (youtube it if you haven’t seen it, he could have chipped a tooth on the rim).
The Pacers will do as they did last year – win games with little flair and fanfare, but doing whatever’s needed to get the W and capture their first Central Division title since the 2003-04 season.
Projected record: 47-35, 1st Central Division
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America