- NBA Rank: 25
Conference Rank: 11
- Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are one season removed from having an outside chance at a trip to the NBA Finals. This year, it's going to take a complete roster overhaul, which seems unlikely, or a whole lot of good fortune for the Pacers to even have a chance of getting swept by Cleveland in the first round of the Playoffs.
Paul George's devastating off-season injury coupled with the departure of Lance Stephenson in free agency are the main stories here, but don't overlook the fact that last season's Pacers win-loss record makes them look a little better than our numbers do. Plus, they'll be relying on quite a few players on the wrong side of thirty.
Lance Stephenson, Paul George, and elite team defense were the key cogs for the Pacers last season. Gerge and Stephenson combined to produce twenty-three of those fifty-six wins. Stephenson's superstar production was overshadowed by his own on-court antics, Paul George's scoring and the media attention because of it, and the team's late-season meltdown and locker room drama. But make no mistake, Lance was the real deal last year. Paul George's numbers were fantastic last season as well, but from our perspective, his production fell just short of all the hype and attention he received. Would I take him on my team over most other wing players in the NBA? Absolutely, with most being the key word.
|Lance Stephenson ||2752.0||23||.215||12.3|
|Danny Granger ||653.0||31||.053||.7|
|Evan Turner ||571.0||25||.029||.3|
|Rasual Butler ||378.0||35||.154||1.2|
|Orlando Johnson ||342.0||25||.024||.2|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
David West, Paul George, and C.J. Miles were the best of the rest for Indiana.
Roy Hibbert is often lauded as a key part of the Pacers' success and the foundation of the Pacers' best-in-class defense, and he is a good shot blocker. But his poor showing from the field and on the glass hurt. I've heard it argued that Hibbert's defensive rebounding numbers suffer because of how often he is attempting to block shots. Maybe, but if that's true, why are so many other good shot blockers also monsters on the glass?
|Rodney Stuckey ||2.0||2046.4||29||.018||.8|
|C.J. Miles ||2.0||1200.4||28||.116||2.9|
|Damjan Rudez ||3.0||930.5||0||-.022||-.4|
|Arinze Onuaku ||4.0||657.2||28||.119||1.6|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
Paul George's return is uncertain, and the Pacers did little to mitigate Stephenson's departure. Our numbers suggest that Stephenson played like a superstar last season, and subjectively, I would argue that he's one of the least-appreciated players in the Association. Losing George for the bulk of the season hurts badly, but losing George and Stephenson is likely more than this Pacers roster can overcome.
As a lifelong Pistons' fan, I can promise you that Rodney Stuckey ain't fillin' that particular void.
To make matters worse, the Pacers don't have any promising young prospects waiting in the wings who could take an unexpected leap, and that frontline is getting old quick.
Roy Hibbert has been rumored to be on the trading block for sometime, but the Pacers will likely need quite a bit more than a Hibbert trade can fetch. Other than that, the Pacers don't have an abundance of attractive assets, and it's hard to come with a realistic roster overhaul that makes them relevant in 2014-2015.
After a tremendously exciting and productive year a season ago, the Pacers are in dire straights. They failed to retain their most productive player in Stephenson, they "replaced" Stephenson with players who aren't any good, and their second-best player is out for the bulk, if not all, of the season.
There's probably enough talent here to get the Pacers just north of thirty wins, but even in the weak East, that's not nearly enough to get out of the lottery.
They might never say, but you gotta think the Pacers are writing this year off and hoping for a combination of some lottery luck and a healthy, productive Paul George in 2015-2016.