So...the NBA season is starting Wednesday and I'm just as psyched this year as I was last year...It'll be fun to see what we can do as underdogs for the first time in a LOOOOOONG time. Regardless, I thought I'd start a thread for everyone who doesn't care about future 2nd round picks, unfortunate off-the-court circumstances, or pre-season struggles right now because THE SEASON IS STARTING.
These are the stories I'm looking forward to the most (in no particular order):
1.) The development of Granger.
He's shown flashes and the work ethic to become great. The second year is big. He has to keep developing (even though guys in his position usually don't make the LEAP until their third year).
2.) Al's back!
Can Al Harrington continue his strong play or was the pre-season just a fluke? Will he defer more to JO and Jack or are we seeing the emergence of future all-star in the forward-weak East?
How good is JO, really? Some say the true testament of his playing ability was two years' ago. Some say he's declined since that (even though, when healthy, his play has been improved across the board). Where will JO emerge on the player power rankings by the end of the season?
4.) The frontcourt...and the backcourt
Does there exist a greater disparity between front-courts and back-courts in the NBA? Obviously, the front court is going to be there. But when they struggle, can the backcourt pull through for us?
I'm looking at you Jamaal, Jermaine, and Marquis.
6.) Jamaal Tinsley
For the first time since his rookie season, JT looks ready to ball. How long can he stay this way and how long before he steps out of the offense? Can he stay within the offense, proving once and for all that he really is a top 10 PG in this league?
Will Jack silence his critics or simply increase the number of calls for his head?
Can Sarunas play better than he did in the pre-season or this the end of Sarunas Jasikevicius era in Indiana?
Where will the leadership come from? JO? Al? DA? JT? Sorry...I just love the two letter thing...Is this just overrated? Has the leadership always been there via JO? Will his leadership be enhanced by Al's arrival?
10.) Marquis Daniels
The range of expectations for him runs the gamut. I feel, however, that his acquisition was lost in the Al Harrington/cuts histeria. The man averaged double figures under a coach who did not use him or play him correctly on the arguably best team in the league. While under Don Nelson, Marquis did extremely well when given minutes and used in a free-flowing offense.
11.) The coaching
What will the coaching be doing this season? Was the firing of Kevin O'Neill significant? The hiring of Johnny Davis? Can Rick return to a freer offense like the one he designed for Larry Bird?
12.) David Harrison - overrated or full of potential?
I feel as if by the end of this season we should know how good David Harrison really is and how much potential he has. If he doesn't progress a lot this season then is it safe to call him mediocre?
13.) 4th quarters
The Pacers gave too much up in 4th quarters and in clutch situations last year. Who will step up and be there this year? Will anyone? Or will have another season as the "unluckiest" team in the NBA?
I like Chemistry. It's one of my favorite subjects. I hear many people don't like it, though. I just feel as if the people teaching them chemistry have made it harder than it needs to be. This is how I feel about the Pacers. Aren't they really making it harder than it needs to be? We're back to basics. We've got guys that are motivated, guys that work hard (even for their spot on the team!), guys that like each other, guys whose skillsets tend to mesh, some leaders...we have all the right ingredients we've liked in previous years. I feel like we're not making it harder than it needs to be and that this group can really have some nice chemistry. It'll be interesting to see if I'm right.
15.) The beginning of the season and how we respond
A lot will be determined in the beginning of this season. We start out playing 13 of 19 on the road with a brutal 5 game West Coast road trip that features one "3 games in 4 nights" and one "back-to-back" stretch
coming towards the end of November/beginning of December. Even if the Pacers start out with a record below .500, what will be significant is not the record, but how the Pacers respond. In the locker room and on the court. That's why I think we'll know by the end of December whether or not this team is for real or not.
I'm psyched. I hope the rest of you are too!