I think this Q&A is from Monday, but I didn't see it posted here already:
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Q. I recently looked at the current rosters of each team in the NBA. I've noticed that several of the teams with strong player depth last year, such as Sacramento and Detroit, will not have the same kind of support for next season due to free-agency period changes. The only real exceptions appear to be the San Antonio Spurs and the Pacers. Both teams appear to be two-deep at every position. I've always felt that having a strong bench is one of the biggest factors in helping a solid team receive the best record in regular-season play.
Many have picked Miami or Detroit to be the top contenders next year in the Eastern Conference over the Pacers. I feel that Miami and Detroit may be an injury or two away from having a tougher-than-expected season. I can't say the same for the Pacers due to their depth. Should we expect the Pacers depth to be a potential difference-maker this season? I would be shocked to find them not in contention for the best conference record due the number of solid players on their roster. (From Richard in Bridgeport, NY)
A. Of the teams expected to contend for the top spot in the Eastern Conference this season Ė Indiana, Detroit and Miami Ė itís fair to say the Pacers have the best overall roster balance of the bunch. That translates into depth at all five positions, which is something neither the Pistons nor Heat can claim. The Pacersí five primary positional backups are point guard Anthony Johnson, shooting guard Stephen Jackson, small forward Jonathan Bender, power forward Austin Croshere and center Scot Pollard. Of that group, only Bender is unproven, and Jackson is available for small forward duty should he falter (moving Fred Jones into the second-unit rotation at shooting guard).
Detroit is very deep at the power forward and center positions but not so on the perimeter. The backup point guard is Lindsey Hunter, a 33-year-old veteran whose effectiveness is waning. The support behind shooting guard Richard Hamilton and small forward Tayshaun Prince consists of Carlos Delfino, Darvin Ham and Ronald DuPree. Detroitís three top reserves last season were Corliss Williamson, Mehmet Okur and Mike James. All are now elsewhere. The Pistonsí two major offseason acquisitions were Antonio McDyess and Derrick Coleman, players who combined to miss 88 games due to injuries last season.
Miamiís lack of depth is the most severe, but thatís the price the Heat was willing to pay to acquire Shaquille OíNeal. The shooting guard-small forward rotation consists of Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler and Wesley Person. Power forward is presently manned by Udonis Haslem and Malik Allen. Miami has time to add some patches to this leaky roster, but the hope is that the S.S. Shaq will keep everything afloat.