What you see is what you get. The Pacers will remain for the most part with the players you see now for the next 5 years and they will not compete for a championship. They have a ceiling below championship contention, and the Pacers front office doesn’t have the foresight to see our Pacers’ limited potential.
Quick note- I don’t intend this as a negative outlook on the Pacers future. Believe it or not, I’m relatively happy with the Pacers’ offseason moves and I look forward to watching some of our young guys develop into real good players. However, that doesn’t keep me from seeing the cold hard truth, and that is this team’s talent level is not on a championship level.
So just hear me out. No matter what I say in the following, I can promise you the next 5 years are going to be some of the most exciting times in the Pacers’ history and it will be a whole lot of fun to watch.
It would be hard to look at all the improvement in the Indiana organization over just the last 3 years and come up with a conclusion that this team cannot or won’t compete for a title. But like most things, proper perspective can give us real insight into where this organization is heading.
It all starts at the top. I don’t necessarily believe the Pacers’ brass aren’t intending on winning as much as possible. I think they very much so are doing everything they can to win. Kevin Pritchard has made some smart moves this offseason drastically improving the bench. It has nothing to do with desire, or a lack of an ability in our team’s front office. They simply don’t realize this team is severely lacking in some areas and unless they make drastic moves at some point in the next few years they’ll never truly compete.
I’ve never really had a problem with how a front office operates. Whether they’re aggressive, conservative or maybe opportunistic. Whatever you want to call it. As long as they have an understanding of what it takes for a team to beat the absolute best, and the complete understanding that they cannot “sit back and evaluate” until they truly have a team that rivals the absolute best.
But that’s what our front office has said. Kevin said the following:
“Coach Vogel wants to keep this team together and see them grow,” Pritchard said. “We’ll look for deals and be opportunistic, but it’s not like we have to do something right now.
“It’s never done,” he added, “but it’s time to sit back and evaluate where we are.
I believe there are only three teams in the NBA that truly should simply be happy with the teams they have fielded. OKC, MIA, and LAL. Those three teams are stacked and are looking at an NBA Finals appearance. While OKC, MIA and LAL have different small issues they will be actively looking to fix if the right deals are coming along, all know they’re fielding top tier talent and until some glaring issues become apparent, no moves need to be made.
This is obviously not the case with the Pacers and even the most positive thinking fellow on this board would agree this team isn’t where they need to be. But there lies the problem. Other than minor upgrades to the bench, the Pacers front office hasn’t made an attempt, or at least welcomed the idea that improvements need to be made for this team to compete.
Many would argue that we have to allow the team to grow, and when the opportunity arises moves will be made. But again, the brass has clearly stated the starting five will stay as is for the forseeable future.
This team’s starting five does NOT have a high ceiling. If we were the most positive and optimistic about this team’s future than this is the best we’ll see out of this team:
George Hill could improve to a very solid starting point guard. Let’s say best case scenario Hill is a top 15 point guard. I mean that’s being honest. He’s not going to be handing out assists like Nash, and he’s not going to be exploding to the basket like Westbrook. He is who he is. A a solid defender, and a solid, reliable offensive player.
Paul George could progress to a top 15 player, the second best two guard in the league. Again, that is probably overly optimistic. But let’s imagine he does. 20ppg, and top tier defense is a fair ceiling for PG.
Granger simply cannot get better than he is now. He’s above average on offense and above average on defense. A real good player.
This is West no matter how optimistic you are on his future: Average defense at best, poor rebounding and absolutely no shotblocking or protecting the rim. Let’s so he’s very good on offense. (that’s just absolutely inaccurate but we’ll throw him a bone)
Hibbert is a shotblocker, protects the rim, plays solid defense and is a real good rebounder. He’s average on offense at best.
That’s your team folks. That is the following, a real strong offense, a strong defense, and average rebounding. That’s pretty good. But bigger teams will out rebound us. Team’s with slashers will exploit our lack of an ability to protect the rim. Great offenses with all world superstars will simply beat our strong but not great defense. That is our team of the future. BEST CASE.
Now compare that to any of the top three. Let’s go with LAL: They have twin towers protecting the rim, they have probably the best rebounding in the NBA, and they have Nash to help an offense that consists of Kobe, Pau and Howard.
The only thing the Lakers lack is depth, and a perimeter defense that is probably not a problem considering Howard’s defensive prowess.
Say what you want about the Lakers good fortune, or good market - whatever it may be, but the real problem is we have a front office that doesn’t at least want to TRY to beat that. No attempt at all.
The funny thing is this has nothing to do with, as I alluded to before, our front offices general manner of doing business. Whether you refer to that as an aggressive or conservative office. It has everything to do with knowing who they are and the willingness to change it.
Say what you want about Bird, who is considered much more conservative compared to Kevin Pritchard but Bird had the same idea each year: “Our team isn’t good enough as constructed, so we’ll do what we need to do to fix that.” Do you see how important that is? This could mean Bird, had he still been in charge, ends up making absolutely no big moves this offseason. This has nothing to do with doing a move, to do a move. This has everything to do with our front office recognizing a lack of talent and making it clear they will work to improve that until they can be happy with the talent level.
I don’t believe it is impossible to compete with LAL, MIA, and OKC. I don’t. I think if you get creative with building a team you can come up with a team that could theoretically beat them. That doesn’t mean they actually end up doing it. But if you can at least field a team that can exploit weakness on those prior teams than you have a chance.
I’m merely asking our office to have a goal they will work to achieve even if it never happens. I understand because of our market, because of luck or any other possible reasons that may be an impossible goal. Doesn’t matter. Aim for the sky, if you don’t meet it than so be it.
I just don’t want to be told that the team I’m seeing has a chance to beat Miami, or OKC or LAL. Because they don’t. Plain and simple. And they won’t next year, or the year after, no matter how good Paul George gets. they don’t have that high of a ceiling.
For those that don’t believe moves can be made to compete with the best, I’ll give you a fictional example of what I think could compete with every team in the NBA. I will not continue to trumpet this idea as if it is the only way to go, or as if this is the best possible example. This is nothing more than a vision I have, for a team that could be formed that would rival any other team in the NBA. Once again the point I’m trying to drive home is not, “Kevin Pritchard should listen to mattie, dumbass drunk boarder on PacersDigest.” It is, Kevin Pritchard should have visions of different scenarios in which a Pacers team could be fielded that can beat anyone.
Here’s my simple thought- While gathering superstar talent went out of the wayside when the Pacers made no attempt to sign Deron Williams in the offseason, I could see how the Pacers could form an all defensive team that could matchup on any front with any team. A a team that could out rebound any team, protect the rim and make life miserable for guys like Wade and LBJ who’d like a nice free ride to the rim.
I know the Pacers do have in place at least part of that puzzle. George Hill is a long physical defender at the PG position. Once Paul George puts on a little strength he’ll be an all world, long defender at the two. He’ll truly have the physical capacity to give any two guard in the league fits. Danny Granger is a very physical defender capable of forcing LBJ to settle for jumpshots just because of his strength and good footwork. Roy Hibbert is a strong rebounder and shotblocker able to protect the rim better than just about every NBA player except Ibaka and Dwight Howard.
That’s a real core there. David West however is a major flaw in that plan. He cannot protect the rim, rebound or play anything above average defense. If David West’s valuable expiring contract is packaged with draft picks and or particular appealing bench players, he could bring back a starting caliber powerforward that could fullfill that necessary role.
Forget David West’s supposed leadership. Focus what it would take for this team to keep Pau and Dwight Howard off the offensive boards. Imagine if this team had two frontcourt players that kept Russell Westbrook and James Harden from having easy layups and dunks. What would happen if Indiana faced Miami in the post season, and they left Shane Battier on our starting 4, and we beat them so bad on the boards Miami would have to play LBJ at the 4 allowing Granger to score at will?
That fictional concept of a team could conceivably play against anyone. (In before ******* quotes the prior sentence and ignores everything else I said.)
My idea as I’ve stated multiple times in various threads is since the rebuilding Hawks have lost out on the Dwight sweepstakes, offer them a package for either one of their 4’s, either Horford or Smith. Obviously Smith would be the best case scenario, but Horford would be amazing as well.
The sheer size and athleticism and defensive ability displayed by our Pacers would allow us to truly play with any team in the NBA. That’d truly make them like the Pistons before. What people forget is that Pistons team was so great because they could defend ANYONE. They were that great. They didn’t have a superstar that could drop 40, but they could stop anyone, outrebound anyone and one year they were fortunate enough to outscore everyone because of all world defensive play.
So I’d like to say one last time, I’m not really upset with how things are going. Watching the Pacers make it to the second round is going to be exciting. I think in the next few years Paul George is going to be a really good player. I think he’ll be an allstar. But that’s the teams ceiling.
Next year when David West is a FA, he’ll be resigned and all of our starting five will be undercontract. DJ will be replaced by another backup point guard. Maybe a slightly superior one, maybe not. Lance could become an important contributor that is fun to watch, or he could go the way of Brandon Rush. You’ll see other various moves that change up the bench from year to year. But as said before, this is our team of the future and they aren’t getting much better.
That is all.
The Pacers front office will not make any moves in the next 5 years to change the current starting lineup. The current starting lineup will never be good enough to beat the top teams in the NBA.