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I'm reletively new to this board, at least in the since that this is my first full season posting here regularly...thats a weird word, "regularly". Anyway, I knew quite a few posters here from other boards before coming here and some of them know that at least once a year I like to post a thread that is basically one amorphous blob of opinion. Usually I try to hit on all the big subjects - players, coaches, GM, ect. from all different angles. This usually tends to be pretty long, so I doubt people will read the whole thing, but it has sparked some good discussions in the past on other boards. So I'm hoping it will do the same thing here. When I do this, I try to be as unbiased as possible. I like to think I'm a fairly unbiased fan, though I'm sure there will be some that disagree with that. Anyway, here it goes:
Danny Granger - If you had asked me last year whether or not I thought Danny could be a franchise player, I would have told you "yes". Now, I'm not so sure he will be, though I still think he can be. For whatever reason, I don't see the same fire behind Granger that I saw last year - now he's been settling for too many jumpshots/3's and avoiding contact. I think if Danny could develop the mentality of Gerald Wallace that he could be a top 7 player in the NBA. Granger has a unique gift in the sense that he could do it all. However, it seems we now get a Danny that focus' primarily on offense - which we do need from him, but I want to see the defensive/rebounding menace side of Danny more than we do. He only seems to bring that out against the LeBron's and Pierce's of the NBA. I want to see Granger step up and be "that guy" but he needs to stop taking so many 3's and give 100% on defense and rebounding all the time. I don't care if his scoring drops, look what Wallace has done in Charlotte - Granger is far more talented and could make a much bigger impact than that, especially since we have a better supporting cast.
Roy Hibbert - I feel sorry for Roy. Here is a guy, who has worked his tail off since getting drafted by the Pacers, only to get stuck with a coach who doesn't have the slightest idea how to use him. I don't care who you have on your team, when you have a guy with Hibbert's size and skills, you develop him. I honestly believe our offense should revolve around Hibbert and not Granger. Clearly Granger is the better offensive player, but if you want to win you go inside out. When Hibbert starts, we'll go to him early, just to show the other team we will - then we don't pass the ball to him again until the 4the quarter for a few plays. Hibbert would even make it an easy transition as he is a very good passer for a big man and has actually drawn a lot of double teams. Granger and Rush would benefit greatly if our offense was ran around Hibbert for the full game. Heck, even Murphy would get more open looks. Also, I don't care who we are playing, Hibbert should start every game. We need to play our game, not the other teams. As for his defense, I believe he is better than he is given credit for. Most young Centers always get in foul trouble as it is, when you have guys like Ford, Dunleavy, Head, ect. on the perimeter who can't stay in front of their man and a guy like Murphy next to him, he is trying to guard his man, plus the guy who burned one of our bad defenders. If we had a good defensive PF next to him, I think he would shine more defensively.
Brandon Rush - I have a feeling this one will spark a lot of controversy. Mainly because I still believe Brandon Rush has All-Star talent and potential. Much like Hibbert, I feel Rush is being misused. I live in Charlotte, and while I have always been a Pacers fan - I once had a quarter of the season tickets to the Charlotte Hornets. This was the year that Eddie Jones was an All-Star. Brandon Rush reminds me so much of Eddie Jones its ridiculous. When we first traded Williams to Dallas for Jones and the picks I was stoked because I thought Eddie Jones would be the perfect mentor. Point is, Rush is oozing with talent, but his talent is great for a set offense, not street ball. If we ran a half court offense through Hibbert, Rush would start to emerge as a good player I think. Even now, I would say Rush is one of the best one-on-one perimeter defenders in the NBA, he rarely gets lost and rarely falls for pump fakes. In fact, about 90% of the points his guys score on him seem to be very well set screens that he has to take the long way around. I can't say much about his team defense as we don't play team defense, but I'll say right now - once we make the playoffs, however long that takes, the NBA will start to notice Rush.
Tyler Hansbrough - Tyler isn't a starter. Sorry to break it to all the fans hoping he will be, but he isn't. However, I will maintain till the day he leaves the NBA that he is a great guy to have off the bench. A huge discussion around here has been wether or not Tyler will improve his shooting % over his career. I think he will, but I don't think he'll ever have a good shooting %. He's far too agressive to only take very smart shots all the time - but with that comes all the FTA he will be getting which is why I'm okay with it. I hope we see Hansbrough retire a Pacer, I have a feeling he is our new Jeff Foster - however, I think he'll be more effective at Foster's age. I'll also say this. I am a die hard Tar Heel fan and have watched him for the last 4 years, but his defense in the NBA is so much better than he ever showed in college. Whenever we have played a team who went small ball, Hansbrough has had to guard a few SF's and has somehow played good perimeter defense on them, I was shocked - I never thought he would be the defender he is right now in the NBA, much less in his rookie year.
AJ Price - Like Hansbrough, Price isn't a starter on a competitive team, however, like Hansbrough, I think he is a great player to have on the bench. Championship teams have role players like Hansbrough and Price and it looks like we found two of them in one draft. What has impressed me the most with Price is his attitude, he looks like a 10 year vet out on the court, not rookie like at all. Quite frankly, I think he should be starting over Watson as he seems to run the offense better than Watson does. This also goes back to my view of running the offense through Hibbert as Price would just give Hibbert more room to work with than Watson would. Price also seems to be the best playmaker we've had since Tinsley and before that Jackson. It is very refreshing seeing someone with his mentality and playmaking at the PG position. Like I said though - even though I wouldn't mind him starting the next few years(same with Hansbrough), I feel on a competitive team, he is a great backup, not a starter.
Dahntay Jones - Jones is kinda a weird player for me. His defense hasn't been near as good as I had hoped, but his offense has been better than I anticipated. Some nights his defense looks great and his offense is terrible, then the next night is offense looks good and his defense is decent. I wish he could put them together more often than he does. Definitely a good role player on a Championship contender, but I'm not sure if he should really be in our future plans.
Jeff Foster - I love the guy, who doesn't? But lets be honest, he has taken many steps back over the last few seasons. On top of being officially injury prone, he has always been a hustle player, players like that fade out more quickly when they can't rely on skill. As much as I wanted to see him retire as a Pacer, we would be much better off, as would he, if we traded him to a contender before everyone catches on that he isn't the same player he was a few seasons ago.
Troy Murphy - Troy has definitely picked it up lately, which is a great thing as I was afraid his draft stock would start to slip. Now with his recent play, I think his value has rised a great deal to contending teams. Troy has taken a lot of heat around here, myself included, but in the big scheme of things, I don't think he deserves it. Jim O'Brien does not teach defense, I don't care what anyone says, I have not seen one bit of evidence since he has arrived in Indiana that he gives a lick about defense. On a good team, with a good coach, Murphy can be a decent defender. He tries, its not like he doesn't give effort, but we have no team defense, so weak individual defenders stand out that much more. Kinda like how Ray Allen's defense was masked once moving to Boston, I think a similar thing would happen with Murphy in a place like, oh I don't know, Cleveland? (Kinda like Mo Williams as well)
TJ Ford - TJ Ford might honestly be the worst PG the Pacers have had since I've been a fan - which is as long as I can remember. He is to quote Sir Charles "turrible". I think he is part victim to Obie's style too though. Obie lets the team do whatever they want, Ford can be an effective PG if held under control. Obie doesn't do that. When Ford is running wild, he brings the whole team down with him, much like Tinsley did. Tinsley was very solid under a controlled offense like Carlisle ran, even if Tinsley thought he was better off in an up-tempo offense. Even though both of their skills match an up-tempo offense, they need a coach to control the offense so they can be held in check. At this point, his value is shot - hopefully we can unload him in the summer as an expiring contract.
Mike Dunleavy - He is not the same player. I'm not even talking physically after returning from injury. He has seemed to lost what made him so effective, his high bball I.Q. He makes a lot of dumb mistakes now and doesn't seem like an effective playmaker like he was. I don't know, I'm just not sold on the player he is now - but I guess I wasn't even after his break out year either. Hopefully we will trade him sometime before next season, though I doubt that will happen. For what its worth, I like the role he has now off the bench, and his shot can still be sweet, though much more inconsistant. If he can pick up that consistancy and regain his I.Q., he will be a good bench player - I just hope we don't resign him after next season.
Luther Head - Pretty much what I think everyone was expecting of him when we signed him. He is what, 6'2, 6'3? He should not be playing SG ever. The problem is, he isn't a PG either. Even when he goes on his scoring spurts, he is a 6'2 guy trying to guard 6'6 guys. I like him as a spark off the bench, but only in a 5-10 minute role as a PG.
Earl Watson - I like him a lot as a backup PG. He has been decent as the starter, but if the ultimate goal is a Championship in the future, he is more suitable as a backup. I do think he could be a good role player on a Championship team though. Thats one reason I like the wya Bird has built this team, our role players are all the type of role players you see on Championship teams, but Bird needs to add another star for any of them to make the impact the could. Watson is a solid vet though, I don't know how his future will play out in Indiana as I like to think Price is our second stringer moving forward, but maybe keep him until we can find our permanent solution to the first string PG position.
Josh McRoberts - I loved the potential that McRoberts showed last year, thats part of the reason I really didn't want to draft Hansbrough, even though I'm a Tar Heel fan. However, I think his potential is fading away. He isn't getting time for a reason, nothing Obie does makes sense anyway, but if AJ Price earned his way into the lineup, something makes me think McRoberts could too if he was doing wel in practice. Regardless of his situation, I love him as a 3rd string PF.
Solomon Jones - I'm actually really, really happy with Jones as a backup Center to Hibbert. He brings some energy and defense off the bench and has actually been better offensively than I was expecting. Good player to have off the bench, especially at the price we got him at.
Travis Diener - Wait, he's still on the Pacers? -_0 Whats there to say about Diener, he is solid when he gets time - has hit some big shots with us before, but he is where he belongs. If we were going to have to have a 4th/5th string PG, I can't think of a better player for the job, except for maybe Ed Cota or Sundiatta(sp?) Gaines.
Jim O'Brien - I hope that everyone understands that when I say this, I mean it, I'm not saying this as a joke or an exaggeration, but I honestly believe that Jim O'Brien is not fit to coach a YMCA team. This guy, is the dumbest coach I have ever seen in my entire life. Keep in mind, I am a 49ers fan and have seen some God awful offensive cordinators come through over the past few years and a Tar Heels fan and suffered through the Doherty years. Jim O'Brien is a moron, thats all there is too it. I think he might have sold his soul to the devil for the ability to manipulate his way into someone giving him a job.
Three games. Thats all it took. Three games into his 1st year with the Pacers I called that he was a terrible coach. Everyone was bashing me saying I wasn't giving him enough time, but after 3 games I could see that he had no clue what he was doing and was too stubborn to change things. I honestly don't want to get into everything that he does wrong because this whole post would take 10x longer, though if someone would like me to clarify late, just post it and I'll explain in further detail why I think he should be banned from basketball.
Larry Bird - Its funny, I can see the direction that Larry is trying to take the Pacers and I love it, however I think he is going about it in the wrong way. I can tell that Larry knows what it takes to build a Championship team, but I also think he is trying to skip a few steps. Right now, he wants to win and rebuild at the same time. The only way that ever happens is with a lot of luck and I personally don't want to rely on luck, especially with our history with it. Larry has brought in the perfect core for a Championship team. Every Championship team is filled with players like Granger, Rush, Hibbert, Hansbrough, Price, Jones, Jones, and Watson. When I say that, I mean they could all be very valuable to teams who could win Championships. However, Granger is the only star we have right now, and while I think Hibbert and Rush could potentially develop into much better players than they are right now, we don't have a coach that supports that, and even then, we would need another sure fire player to go with Granger.
I also think Bird is a little too stubborn for his own good. Bird isn't the type of guy to admit when he is wrong, but he should have fired O'Brien a long time ago, I believe the only reason O'Brien is still here is because Bird doesn't want to admit he made a mistake by hiring him. Bird and Carlisle were friends, which makes me wonder why he is hesitant to fire O'Brien, but the truth is, there isn't one good reason to keep him. Maybe O'Brien is blackmailing him? I don't know, but Bird needs to find a coach who knows how to coach.
Also, I think Bird needs to learn when to sell high. After Dunleavy's career year, I was constantly saying we needed to trade him while his value was high - in fact, most Raptor fans said they would have liked to see a Dunleavy for Bargnani deal, with some of them even saying they'd throw in a 1st. Of course, the next year Dunleavy got hurt and Bargnani broke out into a pretty good player. The point is, Dunleavy should not be considered apart of the core moving forward, even if Bird liked Dunleavy, he should have known this. When you have a player with high value who isn't a good player for a rebuilding process, you need to unload him for pieces for the future. We could have gotten a very good young piece to go with Dunleavy after that year, now we are stuck with him. Murphy is a different case I think, I doubt Murphy's value was ever as high as it is now, which is why Bird needs to look at this team, and pull the trigger on the best deal he can get instead of thinking he's getting shortchanged. I would love to see us get a 1st or Danny Green out of a Cleveland deal, but if the best offer we get is straight expirings, Bird needs to take it. I hope he doesn't try to oversell his players again, which is something I've heard hes done in the past.
My last beef with Bird is last years draft. Going into the draft, the two positions we needed were a PG and a PF. Like I've said, I love Hansbrough, but last year was possibly the best PG draft ever and this year is one of the best PF drafts ever. It made no sense to draft a PF in a sea of PGs, especially since we are still without a PG and there are no PG prospects outside of the #1 pick in this draft. If we took Lawson or Holiday last year, we would have been able to get a guy like Davis, Favors, Monroe, Cousins, Aldrich, ect. this year. I will take Lawson or Holiday paired with any of those PF's over Hansbrough paired with whatever positon we manage to get this year any day.
I think Bird has all the know-how on how to build a team, but at the same time I think he is too stubborn to do it the right way. At least in my opinion.
How I Would Do It:
As the Coach - Like I said earlier, the first thing I would do is build the offense around Hibbert. Its not often you find a 7'3 Center with the post skills that he has, even if he doesn't lead the team in scoring, he needs to be the #1 option. I would limit Granger to 5 3's a game, unless he was shooting over 50% after the first 5, in which case he could shoot them until he went below 50% - obviously he could shoot open 3's too, but never in the first 5 seconds of the shot clock. If we ran the offense through Hibbert, I think Granger would be much more effective on offense, especially if he is limited in the # of 3's he took. Take tonight for instance, Granger was driving to the hole instead of jacking up 3's. Look at all the FT's he took, then look at the big W next to the game. Granger has the ability to take it to the hole and get to the line, that needs to be his first option if he's ever going to be the leader I think he can be. As for Brandon Rush - I take a few games out of the schedule and try to get Rush to step up. I would take him aside, and say something along the lines of "I want you to score 25 points tonight, I don't care how many shots it takes you to get there, just do it. If you don't you won't play for another 3 games." I realize an offense ran through a player forcing shots like I imagine he would be would probably get us a loss, but I think it would be important for Rush to know he has the ability to take over. I would do that for a few games during the year until he got it and could go on scoring spurts reguraly. Also, I'm sure everyone here will think I'm crazy, but I would want to try Rush at PG for maybe 5 minutes per game. If anyone has noticed, he has the best handles on the team - not the best playmaker, but the best dribbler. He has pulled a few Tinsley's out there as of late. I would love to give him 5 minutes at PG just to see what he could do, because if he could hold down that positon for a few stretches throughout the game, we would have a HUGE defensive advantage. His defense would hinder the other teams PG from starting their offense, especially if we have Granger and Jones on the wings to help defend also. As for Granger, I take him aside and show him clips of Gerald Wallace and ask him to be a team player on offense and defense. I'm not saying he isn't a team player - but right now Granger is playing to maybe 6 tenths of the talent he has. I would ask him to do all the little things I know he is capable of doing. Put those games with the Rush scoring games and have learn other roles. Both of them are do-it-all kind of talents, I would do everything possible to bring out the best in them from all angles, not just focus on one aspect of their game.
The big thing for me as a coach is size and defense. I believe size and defense wins Championships. I would not want a PG under 6'2, a SG under 6'6, a SF under 6'8, a PF under 6'10, or a Center under 7'0. Ideally they would be an inch or two taller than that though. Thats why I prefer guys like Rush to guys like Kevin Martin. As good of a scorer as Kevin is, I would prefer a defensive menace, I believe the go farther in the long run. Defense wins Championships, I want great defenders.
As the GM - The whole drafting Hansbrough thing put me in a tough spot of where to go. I feel we are still without a starting PF and PG moving forward, and while I think we found great backups in Price and Hansbrough, I'd much rather have Lawson or Holiday to work with going into a PF heavy draft. Since that isn't possible, my first move would be to pick up a late pick. I don't think Murphy for Z/1st is out of the range of possibility, but if the Cavs are hesitant on that, I would throw in Luther Head to get it done. We shed a little more salary and they would get a temp while their PGs are out, and a player who could be a huge spark and spread the floor for LeBron. This gives us some cap room and another 1st to work with. I would also move Foster to a contender for expirings, which seems reasonable enough.
Come draft night, lets say we end up with the 5th pick or later - I would honestly probably trade it at this point. For me this draft is Wall and Henry or bust in my book - though Ed Davis really interests me, I don't think he will be ready for a few years. When I say that though, I don't mean I don't think its a good draft, because it is - but it is a PF heavy draft, with most of them being projects. I think we would be better off trying to trade the #5 pick for that guy we need next to Granger. #5 could get us a good player to go with Granger, Hibbert, Rush, ect. I know NJ fans said that if they get Wall they would be up for a #5/Harris swap. I'm not sure if thats the trade I would want, but a Harris/Rush/Granger/Hansbrough/Hibbert core is nice moving forward, especially with Price and the Jones' off the bench. If we could somehow trade Hansbrough and the late Cavs 1st for a starting PF, we would be even more set until we can fill out our bench a little better.
I don't think theres all that many moves the Pacers can make this year to make a huge change, but if we were going to try, trading the #5 pick would be a start. Outside of the Wall and Henry, I don't see anyone who would be worth it over a guy like Harris. I'm sure some of those potential guys could really blossom and usually I'm all over potential players, but I don't think the Pacers could afford a miss at this stage in the rebuild.
Players that I think would be a great fit for the Pacers:
Raymond Felton - I think he could break out with the Pacers. He reminds me a lot of Chauncy Billups in the sense that I think he will be a late bloomer. He has already shown to be a good defender, good leader, and very clutch - now he just needs to pull them all together. If the Pacers can trade Murphy and Foster for expirings, we might have enough money to make a run at him, though it would be difficult. I think Felton would be the perfect PG for the Pacers moving forward though.
Ronny Turiaf - The closest thing to Dale Davis that I see in the NBA. I know the Warriors love him, so I don't think it would be easy to get him, not even sure we could, but I think he would be a great fit next to Hibbert. He brings energy, toughness, and defense to the PF positon. Exactly the type of player the Pacers need at the PF spot.
Danny Green - I would love for us to somehow get him out of the Murphy/Z deal if it happens, but I doubt that he will be a throw in. He is a do-it-all kind of player that I love. Will never be more than a role player, but could be a very good one who will step up big in certain situations and become a fan favorite with his pregame dance.
Hakim Warrick - I would love to have this guy off the bench for us. Again, another guy who probably isn't attainable, but seems like a good guy for us to have when Granger needs a rest. He is a do-it-all kinda player who would provide a spark along with some highlights.
Terrence Williams - Definitely not attainable, but definitely a guy that I think would be great for this Pacers team. The Pacers need a guy with some attitude like that, someone who will get under the skin of wing players while Tyler takes care of the post players.
Players to look at in the draft:
John Wall - No explanation needed, he will be a star providing he doesn't get injured.
Evan Turner - Looks like Brandon Roy light. A guy that size with handles like that and who gives it all the whole game is very rare. He is #2 on my board at this point.
Ed Davis - The guy has so much potential, but will need to bulk up if he ever wants to reach his potential. If he does bulk up, I think he could be a lot like JO was in his prime.
Greg Monroe - Probably not going to be a great player, but I could see him being a Aldridge type of player in the NBA. Definitely could be a useful starting PF.
Jarvis Varnado - Could be a great pick late in the 1st round, reminds me of Josh Smith defensively.
Players to avoid drafting:
Patrick Patterson - I really don't like undersized guys. He won't be able to outmuscle NBA players like he does in college. He reminds me a lot of Ike Diogu. Not a good defender in college, will be even worse in the NBA.
Willie Warren - I would probably like him a lot more if he was 2 inches taller, I hate short players though.
Dexter Pittman - Sorry Pittman, Glen Davis already secured the overweight guy who made it position for the next few years.
Kyle Singler - Will be in Europe in 4 years. Will probably be a much better player over there anyway, but his game/athleticism won't allow him to succeed in the NBA I don't think.
Solomon Alabi - Nothing against him, but its hard for young Centers to make it in the NBA. I see a lot of potential there, but I doubt he gets there.
Thats it haha, sorry for how long it was. I'm going to pursue a career as a writer, so once I get going it tends to go on for a while haha. For any of those who read the whole thing, just message me your adress and I could possibly send over a cookie - though if you actually gave me your adress I would probably just order you 20 pizzas instead(just to warn you 0_0). Hopefully this will bring up good conversations like it has on other boards, thanks for taking the time to read it for those who did and if you didn't I understand haha. I left out a few things suprisingly, but I have to work tomorrow so I figured I'd cut a few corners haha.