Long, Drawn Out But Very Personable NBA Previews: Indiana Pacers

By Justin Cherot

I just knew this would happen.  I was flowing through these at the beginning, but within the last week we’ve seen the inevitable “Justin Cherot Stall”, which if you’re a follower of Live From the Nosebleeds (no posts since the day after the NBA Draft) you should be quite accustomed to by now.  However, I’m going to buck the trend and finish these.  I promise.

If you’ve read the first several (see the archive at the bottom of the page if you haven’t), you know the drill by now.  Team by team, player by player previews going in a predicted order of finish.  I’m in my “teams on the outside looking in” category, and that will continue with the Indiana Pacers.

Star

Danny Granger

Danny Granger's rise to the top was unexpected.  So would be a Pacers' playoff appearance this season.  Photo by Ron Hoskins, Getty Images.

Danny Granger's rise to the top was unexpected. So would be a Pacers' playoff appearance this season. Photo by Ron Hoskins, Getty Images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So while the world goes Drake crazy, I’m Danny Granger just workin’ at a different pace…”- Wale

Drake has dominated the airwaves, almost like Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams pretty much dominated the headlines leading up to the 2005 NBA Draft.  Granger had to hear the likes of Martell Webster, Channing Frye, Rashand McCants and Joey Graham called to the podium before him on draft day.  Question… did those four guys I previously mentioned get anywhere near Granger’s 26 a game last year COMBINED?  Talk about a surprising rise to the upper-echelon of NBA players.  Now comes the hard part for Granger: taking his game to the next level and getting this team to the playoffs.  He has some interesting pieces around him, but that’s just writer-speak for saying that he needs a little bit more help.  If any of the teams in the top eight in the East get bit by the injury bug, it’s not totally out of the question for them to make the playoffs this year.

The Other Starters

Troy Murphy

You know, I banged on him last year for being vastly overpaid, but I think by averaging 14, 12 and shooting a ridiculous 45% from three probably does warrant his current salary.  Those stats surprisingly made him the 19th most effective player in the NBA according to PER standards.  I don’t quite see him putting up last year’s numbers again, but I still think he’ll be a very effective second option for the Pacers.

T.J. Ford

It’s hard to question a player’s ability at 16 and six assists, but to be brutally honest, I thought Ford would be a much better NBA player.  Not too many point guards in the NBA can mimic his quickness and athletic ability, but two things have hampered him: 1) his ability to stay healthy and 2) his shooting.  For those two reasons he’s been on the hotseat as a starting point guard throughout his entire NBA career.  He’s a capable shooter, and the reason I know that is because he shoots it really well from the free throw line.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize that it’s a different kind of shot, but at least his mechanics are good.  With him it’s just a matter of knocking down shots.  Plus, as quick as we are to write off NBA point guards, Ford is only 26.  Hell, he’s younger than me!  Are you guys ready to write me off yet?

Don’t answer that.

Jeff Foster

Foster is one tough cookie who will shoot solid percentages year in and year out, but I think this will be the season that Roy Hibbert eventually takes over the starting job.  The best thing he can do for this team, outside of his steady play, is to be a mentor for the kids.  It’s all about the children.

Brandon Rush 

Call me nuts, but I’ve always felt that the Rush family becomes less deserving of an opportunity to play in the NBA with each propsect, and yet the opposite appears to be true.  Jaron was a great prospect at UCLA but couldn’t stick in the league.  Kareem is better than Brandon but couldn’t even get minutes over him in Indiana.  And now, Brandon gets his chance to shine as the eventual, if not opening night, starting two guard for the Pacers.  Pacers’ brass is crazy about him but I’m just not sure he handles the ball well enough to be the answer at that position.

Bench

Mike Dunleavy

If this were NBA Live, I would consider starting Dunleavy at two just to have my best players on the floor, but in real life we know what would happen: he would get absolutely abused on the other end.  Still, I think L’il Dun will garner some consideration for 6th Man of the Year if he’s healthy enough.  Last year in the last quarter of the season he returned to the court and, despite difficulty finding his stroke, still managed to average 15 a game. 

Roy Hibbert

Hibbert would look like a slow, clumsy big man if you ever passed him on the street, but then he’d definitely change your mind when you saw him on the court.  He’ll never beat Justin Cherot in a 40 yard dash, but he’s got good touch around the basket and his footwork at this point in his career is ahead of the curve.  Like most young players, he’ll have to get better defensively in order to stay on the court and out of foul trouble, but Hibbert will be a good center down the road, possibly as early as this year.

Dahntay Jones

I had to do a double-take looking at his stats.  This man shot 65% from three point range last year!?  Upon further review, it was on 17 attempts, but that begs the following question: why don’t you put it up more, son?  Flipping to serious mode, the Pacers brought him in for his defense, and slowly but surely he’s becoming a lockdown defender in this league.  He’s not a 25 minute a night kind of guy, but if you need a stop he needs to be on the floor.

Earl Watson   

Watson is like Sage Rosenfels in a lot of respects.  Everybody you talk to says he manages the game well, but nobody is dying to have him as their starter.  If he does start, that means things are getting desperate.  With that said,both the Minnesota Vikings and the Indiana Pacers are hoping that their number one guy can hold up to the rigors of a long season.

Tyler Hansbrough

How the number 12 pick in the draft ended up on a major commercial before the number one pick is somewhat confusing, but regardless people have been so quick to bang on Hansbrough for his lack of upside.  They may be right, but I don’t think there are too many players in the NBA who will work harder.  Because he’s not an athletic stiff, I think he’ll eventually turn that work ethic into a solid NBA career.

Josh McRoberts

As a player, I like McRoberts more than Ty-Hans, but as mentioned above it’s about work ethic, and that’s where the AT&T spokesman has him kicked. 

Travis Diener

So far in going through with these previews, I’ve been hard-pressed to find better players who will be glued to the bench than this bunch.  Diener is probably a better player than Watson, but it goes back to that whole game manager thing.  Although Diener is a much better shooter, he’s more of a Rex Grossman type of back-up. 

Luther Head

I know Head is kind of a one-trick pony, but for his first two seasons in the NBA he performed that trick pretty well.  He dropped off a bit the following three seasons, but in my opinion not to the point of end-of-the-bench exhile.  Hopefully he can regain that form here with the Pacers, and if pre-season minute distribution is any indication, he’s well on his way.

A.J. Price

For better or worse, Price plays like a poor man’s Jamaal Tinsley.

Solomon Jones

PROP BET ALERT!!!  PROP BET ALERT!!!  I will take the over on Jones getting three points per game this season.

NBA Preview Archives

30. Sacramento Kings

29. New Jersey Nets

28. Milwaukee Bucks

27. Minnesota Timberwolves

26. New York Knicks

25. Oklahoma City Thunder

24. Houston Rockets

23. Charlotte Bobcats

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