Basketball Magazine

What's up with the Indiana Pacers?

By Realdarinford @realdarinford

What's up with the Indiana Pacers?

This picture kinda sums up the Pacers season so far; David West’s face of constipation typifies the struggles his team has faced without Danny Granger.

Right now, the Indiana Pacers are clearly missing the services of their most talented player, Danny Granger, who is out for the next three months because of a knee procedure he underwent recently. Prior to last season, the Pacers were a trendy pick for surprise team in the Eastern Conference. Their play backed that belief up perfectly. Compiling a solid 42-24 record after the 66 games of the truncated 2011-12 campaign was good enough to earn Indiana the 3rd-seed for the playoffs in the East. They would go on to beat the 6th-seeded Orlando Magic in the 1st round (4 games to 1) before bowing out of the playoffs in a six-game series defeat to the eventual champion Miami Heat.

The solid showing in last season had Pacers fans really excited for the 2012-13 season, a full 82-game season in which they could possibly take advantage of their division rival, the Chicago Bulls, being without their star point guard Derrick Rose. There was reason for optimism in the Hoosier State heading into an offseason where there was considerable roster turnover. Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones were traded to Dallas for Ian Mahinmi. A few draft picks were added (Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson). Backups A.J. Price, Kyrylo Fesenko, and Louis Amundson all left via free agency. D.J. Augustin, Sam Young, and Gerald Green were all added via free agency. It’s safe to say that the Pacers at the end of the 2011-12 season looked a lot different from the Pacers of the 2012-13 season. However, there wasn’t a huge talent displacement between both squads.

Then, in the preseason, news came out that star forward Danny Granger’s knee was significantly injured. A few weeks later, it was revealed that the Pacers would be without Granger’s services for roughly three months, clearly a devastating blow to a team believed to be a contender in the East. A once-promising season for the Pacers potentially ruined by an injury to their best player. Couple that with the offseason roster shakeup Indiana experienced this past summer, and the Pacers fairly-narrow contender window could be made even smaller.

As we have seen with recent dream teams in the NBA–like the Heat in 2010-11 and the Lakers this season–it takes much of a season, if not more than one, for them to gel together as a cohesive unit and realize the true  ceiling of their talent base. As the Pacers are still early on in that one season timeframe, there obviously is plenty of time for them to become a good team in the absence of Granger. However, that’s not looking too promising right now, especially on the offensive end of the court.

Defense has never been the problem for Indiana under the realm of Frank Vogel, and this season is no different. They have a defensive rating of 98.1, good for first in the NBA. For those not as statistically focused, the Pacers have also allowed the lowest opponent’s field goal percentage in the league as well (.407). Things offensively, on the other hand, haven’t been as smooth.

The Pacers boast the second-worst offensive rating (97.0) and, at .406, the worst field goal percentage in the NBA respectively. Clearly, they miss Granger’s instant offense abilities as noone else on their roster has even close to the same ability to create their own shot as he does. Center Roy Hibbert, recently-acquired forward Gerald Green, fellow forward Paul George, and even point guard George Hill are all decent complimentary options for scoring, but none of them have shown the ability to lead Indiana in the way that Granger normally does.

The Pacers still have the core of the team that reached the second round of last year’s Playoffs and was the 3rd-seed in the East. However, their struggles will continue until they get Danny Granger back in around three months. Until then, it’s just a waiting game, one they want to end desperately.

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