What Positions, If Any, Are Up For Grabs?
Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006
OF THE DAY
Q. After all of the changes to the roster -- and training camp just a week away -- what positions look like they'll have the most competition for playing time, or possibly even the starting job? (From Roberto in Bloomington, Ind.)
A. One of the major byproducts of the offseason alterations will be increased competition for playing time, and maybe even a few starting jobs. Part of the plan, in fact, was to give the coaching staff more options while increasing the motivation of players that might need a little jolt here and there.
The point guard job, as best I can read it at the moment, belongs to Jamaal Tinsley provided he can stay healthy. Sarunas Jasikevicius, Darrell Armstrong, Orien Greene and Snap Hunter all bring different skill sets to the table. Marquis Daniels could get a look there, as well. It will be particularly interesting to see how last season's experience fuels Jasikevicius.
Stephen Jackson is a strong incumbent at shooting guard, but Daniels and James White both are expected to push for significant playing time. It would be very difficult to wrest the job from Jackson but it's not entirely out of the picture.
Small forward is going to be a very interesting spot because the team can go two very different directions. At the moment, Danny Granger appears to be the most likely starter and he'll need to show continued improvement from his extremely promising rookie season. Though Al Harrington is likely to spend most of his time paired in the frontcourt with Jermaine O'Neal, he has played small forward in the past and could move to the position if the Pacers opt to start a bigger lineup with Jeff Foster or possibly David Harrison at center.
With Jermaine O'Neal locked in at power forward, the center position will be much like that at small forward, open to the possibility of substantial change based on the opponent. Against most teams, it seems likely Harrington will pair with O'Neal. Against the bigger teams like Miami, Foster or Harrison could get the call.
Heading into camp, it appears the most likely lineup will be Tinsley, Jackson, Granger, O'Neal and Harrington. But that doesn't mean it's a lock. This preseason, more than most, offers real intrigue in terms of who will play where and how much