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90'sNBARocked
09-29-2010, 11:15 AM
http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=17452
By: Joel Brigham Last Updated: 9/28/10 2:34 PM ET



For most of the summer, the Indiana Pacers didn't do a whole lot outside of drafting Paul George and Lance Stephenson. It looked as though Larry Bird and the gang would be returning essentially the same lineup that missed the playoffs last year, and fans were not particularly happy or excited about the upcoming season.

Then the trade for Darren Collison happened, and everything changed.

Now there's real conversation—from within and without of the Pacers organization—that Indiana could be a playoff team, and with a franchise point guard finally, mercifully in place, the whole outlook on not only this season but future seasons has completely changed.

Media Day in Indy Monday covered the gamut of that newfound optimism, and also raised a few questions as to what the team needs to do during training camp and the preseason.

#1 – Figure out what to do at power forward.
Trading Troy Murphy was necessary in order to return a point guard the quality of Darren Collison, but that move left the Pacers pretty thin at power forward as a result. Ideally, 2009 lottery pick Tyler Hansbrough would slide into that spot and get his chance to prove his value, but with continuing vertigo issues (despite reports that he's been very effective in scrimmages), Pacers' head coach Jim O'Brien has said that Josh McRoberts will likely begin the preseason as the team's starter.

As much as that likely makes Pacers fans throw up in their mouth a little bit, Hansbrough clearly is the better long-term bet to start at four, and he says he's finally feeling a lot better.

"I've made a lot of progress and I feel optimistic," Hansbrough said on Monday at Media Day. "I was focused on trying to get healthy and rehabbing and things like that. But once I felt like we were getting in the right direction, I started continuing conditioning and started doing more basketball related activities."

He added, "It is a good opportunity for me to come in and kind of have possibly a starting job, but I'm more concerned just getting back out there and playing like I used to."

#2 – Get Darren Collison acclimated as quickly as possible.
They say that playing quarterback is the hardest job in all of sports, but playing NBA point guard isn't too far behind. Collison, after an amazing rookie campaign that showed bursts of wow in the occasional absence of Chris Paul, is now the starting point guard for the Indiana Pacers, and that means for the second year in a row he's got an all-new organization, all-new system, and all-new teammates to learn. The expectations for him in the city of Indianapolis are monumental, so he'd better figure out all of things pretty quickly.

"There are a lot of people excited about this," Collison said about his new hometown.

"We've got a lot of great shooters, and it just matches up to my speed," he continued. "If I can get into the paint as much as I can and I can kick it out to those guys, I think it will help us out a lot."

Those, however, are semantics. In order to be most effective, Collison has to learn his teammates' strengths and weaknesses very quickly, to know where they like the ball and to figure out how best to get it to them. That takes time, and the Pacers (and their fans) are hopefully that there's enough of it in the preseason for D.C. to start the regular reason confident and ready to go.

#3 – Adjust to shooting fewer three-pointers.
Believe it or not, losing Murphy also means shooting a whole heck of a lot fewer threes. Whether you're sticking Hansbrough or McRoberts in the four spot, neither one has the spot-up range that Murphy did, and that means taking a rather different approach to running the offense.

For starters, O'Brien made it clear that the half-court offense will start with Roy Hibbert, and he also noted that his current stock of power forwards need to run the floor well and get to the rim. That's a huge philosophical change from last season's offense, but it's also a necessary one that should do wonders for the team's overall field goal shooting percentage.

#4 – Give Roy Hibbert a chance on offense.
As O'Brien said, however, it all starts with Hibbert, who lost 20 pounds this summer and trimmed his body fat to only 10%. Last season, Hibbert played only 25 minutes a game but still scored just under 12 points and shot 50% from the field in those limited minutes. He's an underrated passer and on most nights will be the tallest guy on the floor at 7-foot-2.

If that really is the way Jim O'Brien wants to run the offense this year, he's going to have to use the preseason practicing. You can't just switch an overall philosophy like that and expect it to change overnight; a certain number of repetitions are required before the players start to "get it."

"One of the best summers I've ever witnessed in my years of coaching," said O'Brien of Hibbert's offseason. "Here's a young guy that understands that certainly it's up to the coaching staff to develop players, but most importantly it's up to the individual to develop."

Hibbert, for his part, made a point to advertise how great he's feeling heading into this season.

"I feel a noticeable difference, whether I'm moving on the court or playing defense," said Hibbert. "It's a lot of stress off my knees as well."

With the team's big man feeling as good as he ever has, and with a coach showing confidence in what he can do out of the post, Hibbert has to prove this offseason that the new philosophy is one worth heeding. Indy personnel seem confident that he can, but upping Roy's minutes and expecting him to play such a huge role in the offense is something that takes a little getting used to.

#5 – Move past the off-the-court issues.
Over the summer, Brandon Rush failed a drug test for the third time and rookie Lance Stephenson experienced some domestic issues of his own almost immediately after being drafted. Both things could prove to be distractions, but it's important that both players get focused on their jobs, admit their wrongdoings, and stop answering questions about it from here on out.

Both players addressed their issues on Media Day, but there's no telling how easy it will be to bury those distractions and just move on with the game of basketball.

"I'm making a lot of changes in my life," Rush said in his first interview since his suspension was announced. "I'm moving away from people I used to kick it with all the time and just getting my mind right."

"It's real tough," he continued. "I've been knowing my friends for a long time. But it's that time. When I made this mistake, it's time to move on to be a grown man,"

Stephenson also admitted his wrongdoing, but kept his comments a lot shorter and sweeter than those of Rush.

"I'm just trying to be a better person on and off the court, move forward and stay focused," Stephenson said.

Hopefully both he and Rush can keep those promises. Things like that are easy to say but hard to carry out. Indiana has a lot of positive things happening this season, and the last thing they need is these guys taking away from that optimism. Hopefully it really is all in the past and the organization can move forward.

#6 – Allow Danny Granger to establish himself as a leader.
It's not that Granger wasn't already the best player on the team for the last couple of years, but it's also no secret that he took a step backwards last season, scoring fewer points on a worse percentage from the field. He also followed up his first All-Star appearance in 2009 with a season in which he wasn't named to the team, but his experience with Team USA has put him in a place where he feels more mature than ever before.

With Troy Murphy gone, T.J. Ford and Mike Dunleavy clearly lame ducks in the last years of their contracts, and Jeff Foster barely relevant as a player anymore, this is the first year that Granger not only can take full control of the team from a leadership standpoint, but should take full control of the team from a leadership standpoint.

"Watching Chauncey Billups, the way he handles himself, the way he talks to other players," Granger said at Media Day on Monday. "Everybody had to take something from that."

He added, "I need to win, that's my biggest thing. However we're going to do that, that's what we've got to do. We have a lot of pieces but we always say that at the start of the season. We need to develop consistency and gel together."

The responsibility of making sure everybody works their hardest and gets along is going to fall squarely on Granger's head this year, and it's something he seems willing to embrace. Despite whoever else is on this roster, the success of this team depends too much on the success of Danny Granger, and it seems like he understands that now more than ever.

The rest of the league might take a little more convincing that the Pacers are for real in 2011, but that's why the games are played. I've got a feeling that when all 82 are in the books, Indiana will be looking back with pride on what they accomplished this year. And the really beautiful thing is that this is only the beginning.

Read more NBA news and insight: http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=17452#ixzz10vphN0GC

Putnam
09-29-2010, 11:38 AM
The rest of the league might take a little more convincing that the Pacers are for real in 2011, but that's why the games are played. I've got a feeling that when all 82 are in the books, Indiana will be looking back with pride on what they accomplished this year. And the really beautiful thing is that this is only the beginning.



Nice!





.

90'sNBARocked
09-29-2010, 11:53 AM
Nice!





.

I know right

After countless years of pre-season predictions filled with glom, things are finally turning around, and I think a lot of us will agree that this is the most excited we have been in a long time

Trader Joe
09-29-2010, 11:54 AM
I know right

After countless years of pre-season predictions filled with glom, things are finally turning around, and I think a lot of us will agree that this is the most excited we have been in a long time

I just hope we're not in for the ultimate disappointment and franchise killing moment...the failed rebuild.

pacer4ever
09-29-2010, 11:57 AM
3 – Adjust to shooting fewer three-pointers.
Believe it or not, losing Murphy also means shooting a whole heck of a lot fewer threes. Whether you're sticking Hansbrough or McRoberts in the four spot, neither one has the spot-up range that Murphy did, and that means taking a rather different approach to running the offense.


Forward this 2 JOB please

MLB007
09-29-2010, 11:59 AM
I just hope we're not in for the ultimate disappointment and franchise killing moment...the failed rebuild.

we're not :cool:

MLB007
09-29-2010, 12:00 PM
Very well written. I agree with everything he said.
I'm hearing a lot of determination to make things better out of a lot of guys that we hadn't really heard anything from in previous years.

90'sNBARocked
09-29-2010, 12:03 PM
I just hope we're not in for the ultimate disappointment and franchise killing moment...the failed rebuild.

I know what you mean Joe

Once bitten , twice shy

This year I think most of us have real expectations, and plus the excitment of no troy murphy spoting up, Roys improvement, Dc as the future PG, and the rookies make it exciting unlike years past

90'sNBARocked
09-29-2010, 02:41 PM
Very well written. I agree with everything he said.
I'm hearing a lot of determination to make things better out of a lot of guys that we hadn't really heard anything from in previous years.

I agree

BringJackBack
09-29-2010, 10:58 PM
Why can't our journalists write articles like this?

Mike Wells knows as much as us while having a media pass, and he doesn't use it to his advantage.

Kravitz only half-way cares about the Pacers, and he's more concerned with front office and coaching than the ballclub. (as in everything relates to Larry and Jim keeping their jobs, rather than the improvement of the ball club, not to mention the Colts*)

Rabjonis is pretty good, I liked the article when Darren first got here about him being a video game-chill type of layed back guy, never a party type..

*No beef, that's his job, and he should care about the Colts more.