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Thread: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

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    Default Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/previ...pacers-outlook

    Overview

    Well, here they are. After years of rebuilding and unloading bad contracts, the Pacers had their coming-out party in 2011-12 and look set to have a half-decade window of being a quasi-serious contender in the Eastern Conference. Meticulous cap management under Larry Bird and some shrewd drafting -- Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert were selected outside the lottery and Paul George 10th overall -- allowed the Pacers to rebuild. The final step came when they scored a rare free-agent coup with David West.

    Bird stepped down over the summer, however. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Indy handed the reins back to Donnie Walsh, with former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard as a heavily involved No. 2. Meanwhile, the Pacers parted ways with Bird's right-hand man, David Morway.

    The new front office inherits an enviable situation, as most of the hard work has been done. The Pacers identified a solid coach in Frank Vogel and seem locked into this starting five, assuming West re-signs, for the foreseeable future. With West the only player on the wrong side of 30, the Pacers don't figure to go away any time soon.

    The question, instead, is whether they can make the additional leap to be something more than a solid second-round playoff team. The Pacers have five good players, but they don't have a true star, Hibbert's max contract notwithstanding. The best shot at one is George, but he and Granger are both natural small forwards. It seems inevitable that the Pacers will have to move Granger to get the best out of George.

    The other move that could lift the Pacers another level would be upgrading the bench. An effort was made on that front in the offseason, although to what end is unclear. Indiana will be able to keep the starting five together and stay under the luxury tax or reasonably close -- an imperative in this market -- but the Pacers have to keep finding inexpensive role players to piece together the rest of the roster.

    Drafting well would go a long way toward accomplishing that, and the draft was Pritchard's specialty in Portland. Nonetheless, the Pacers represent a typical study in the challenges facing small-market teams trying to take the final steps to be a champion. Nobody is flocking to Indiana in free agency or demanding a trade to this team, they can't go deep into the tax, and they'll be drafting in the 20s for the next few years.

    Getting to this point took some wise drafting and a lot of patience, which was impressive. Getting further will take a double dose of smarts, luck and timing.



    2011-12 Recap

    AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
    Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger could be celebrating more success if the Pacers keep rolling.
    How is this possible? The Pacers were 28th in 2-point shooting percentage, ahead of only Cleveland and Charlotte, and somehow had a good offense anyway. This answers one of the big questions of last season, which is how an offense could look so ugly and still produce decent results.

    It turns out, it looked ugly because it was ugly. There were a lot of forced shots and bad bricks, and much of it came either in straight isos or pick-and-rolls that the ball handler turned into isos. The indiscriminate gunning was bad enough with the starters, but it really went over the top any time Tyler Hansbrough checked in. Not surprisingly, the Pacers had the third-lowest assisted-basket rate in the league.

    HOLLINGER'S '11-12 STATS
    W-L: 42-24 (Pythagorean W-L: 42-24)
    Offensive efficiency: 103.5 (8th)
    Defensive efficiency: 100.4 (10th)
    Pace factor: 93.4 (19th)
    Highest PER: Roy Hibbert (19.35)

    So where's the good news in all this? And how the heck did they finish eighth in offensive efficiency?

    For starters, they got to the line a ton and made their freebies. While they had trouble finding the open man, when they did, they made the shot, as Indy shot a strong 36.8 percent on 3s -- albeit on very few attempts; again, finding the open man wasn't a strength. As a result, its true shooting percentage was almost exactly at the league average of 52.7.

    The second part, as you may have figured out by now, is that Indy was a classic quantity team. Maybe the guards didn't find the open man, but they didn't throw the ball away either. And all those ugly isos at least produced a shot. The Pacers were well below the league average in turnover rate and well above it in offensive rebound rate. As a result, only five teams averaged more shots per possession than the Pacers.

    Basically, they were good at every part of offense except 2-point shooting. That's still an important factor, but the Pacers were the rare team whose excellence on the rest of the spectrum let them thrive despite an abysmal shooting percentage inside the arc.

    Still, one wonders how good they might be with a dynamic point guard. Shooters like George, Granger and West dot the perimeter, and Hibbert has a solid face-up game too. A guard who could drive and dish would make their lives a lot easier.

    Defensively, the Pacers were solid overall, but their weakest link pointed an arrow at the frontcourt. Indiana fouled like crazy, particularly with the second unit, posting the league's fifth-worst opponent free throw rate. The Pacers also had a subpar defensive rebound rate and gave up more 3s than normal.

    Usually all three of those are signs of an ineffective frontcourt rotation, and it's not a huge surprise to see Indy rank so low. While Hibbert and West were effective offensive players, they both had defensive limitations. West is a bit undersized and couldn't jump after offseason Achilles surgery, while Hibbert protects the rim but moves slowly. The second unit didn't help either, as undersized Lou Amundson struggled as the backup center.

    This takes us to the other big story of the season. A lot of people don't realize how bad Indiana's bench was and how much it held the Pacers back, especially in the playoffs. Consider that the four-man pairing of West, George, Granger and Hibbert outscored opponents by 259 points. The rest of the time Indy was -41. Every bench player had a negative plus-minus, every starter had a positive plus-minus, and George Hill and Darren Collison, who swapped roles halfway through the season, were neutral.

    This carried over to the playoffs, where the Pacers' starters outplayed Miami's, but the bench was so bad they lost the series anyway. Indy was plus-58 with its starting five on the court, but with at least one sub playing, it was minus-97 against a club not exactly renowned for its bench.



    Offseason Moves

    Michael Hickey/US Presswire
    Pacers center Roy Hibbert re-signed, giving Indiana long-term stability in the middle.
    Indiana kept its starting five intact and, based on the failures of the bench, went about rebuilding the second unit. In the end, I'm not sure the overall impact was a net positive, but it beat trying something that had been proven not to work. Check out these moves:

    Let Amundson go, drafted Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson: Plumlee is a great athlete and leaper, but he might have been a reach in the first round. His anemic production at Duke suggests he'll be a one-dimensional rebounder. He does, however, add some genuine size to a frontcourt that needed it. Second-rounder Johnson was another need-based pick, as the Pacers look to fortify a wing rotation that disappointed last season.

    Re-signed Roy Hibbert for four years, $56 million: The Pacers "matched" an offer sheet from Portland that was never actually signed by Hibbert, as Indy quickly offered him identical terms and he decided not to bother with the charade. The most important part, other than the money, is that it contains a player option for the fourth year, which means the Pacers and Hibbert could be doing this dance again three years from now. The Pacers probably overpaid, but they had no realistic alternative; Dwight Howard wasn't clamoring to come to Indiana.

    Re-signed George Hill for five years, $40 million: This one was preordained when the Pacers traded their first-round pick to San Antonio for Hill a year ago, with the intent to re-sign him. While one can argue that the money was a bit rich for a restricted free agent who isn't a star, Hill had a productive first season in Indiana, and his ability to play both guard spots gives the team some roster flexibility. The biggest issue may be the fully guaranteed fifth year on the deal, which no other team could even offer Hill. That, combined with the dollars, seems like an overreach.

    Traded Collison and Dahntay Jones to Dallas for a signed-and-traded Ian Mahinmi (four years, $16 million): This was the big question mark in Indy's summer, as the Pacers could have signed Mahinmi outright rather than trading two players for him. The contract also seemed a bit generous for a player of Mahinmi's modest talents. The one big positive is that the Pacers seem to have solved their backup center issue. Mahinmi will be a big upgrade on Amundson defensively, and unlike Amundson, he can make a shot from outside the charge circle.

    The problem is more that the Pacers needlessly gave away two players to make it happen. Apparently they viewed Jones as a negative asset and wanted him gone badly enough that they were willing to throw in Collison. That seems a stretch given that Jones was fairly productive a year ago, but it was the logic. Meanwhile, the Pacers lost a productive point guard who was the lone positive for their struggling second unit -- all for a player they could have signed outright.

    Signed Gerald Green for three years, $10.5 million: Indy filled its backup small forward spot by looking to cash in on Green's potential. He washed out earlier in his career, but last season, he destroyed the D-League like it was a video game and played quite well for New Jersey. Given the dollars, it was a reasonable risk on the Pacers' part that may pay big rewards. The nice part for Indy is that if Green thrives, it can play small lineups with Granger at the 4 much more frequently, something the team hardly ever did last season.

    Let A.J. Price go, signed D.J. Augustin for one year, $3.5 million: The new backup point guard in Indy will be Augustin, which is the other puzzling part of the Collison deal. First, the positive: Augustin is a better passer than any guard on the Pacers, and he may be able to distribute the ball to Indy's shooters much more effectively. Unfortunately, Augustin hasn't made his own shots, either from outside or in the paint, and defensively he is a major liability. As a result, he is a downgrade from Collison in nearly every respect and costs $1.2 million more.

    The Pacers signed him to only a one-year deal, which means even if Augustin plays well, they're hosed, because he can walk as a free agent and the Pacers won't have his Bird rights -- the most they can offer is a 20 percent raise to $4.2 million. Collison would have been a restricted free agent and much less of a flight risk.

    Let Leandro Barbosa go, signed Sam Young and Sundiata Gaines to one-year, minimum deals: Barbosa was secretly awful last season, and the Pacers were wise to let him walk. I liked the moves they made to fill out their roster, as Young and Gaines were undervalued by their former teams. Neither can shoot, but the Pacers have enough shooting. It's likely one of these two will be the backup shooting guard, although Johnson and Lance Stephenson also figure in the picture. Gaines may get minutes at the point if Augustin struggles.



    2012-13 Outlook

    The continued emergence of Paul George is one key to the rise of Indiana.
    The biggest advantage the Pacers have is that they play in the Eastern Conference, where it looks like they may land the No. 2 seed by default. With the former powers crumbling around them and nobody else to take the mantle, Indiana may find itself in the conference finals this spring.

    This would be another tangible sign of progress, but if you're looking past this to the Pacers' chances of winning a conference title or the whole shebang, look at two factors: Paul George and the bench. George is the team's one chance to have a genuine star emerge, so if he can take that next step in his third pro season, it will make Indy's already potent starting five a real force -- even against the Miamis of the world.

    With the rebuilt bench, the hope is that supplementing the frontcourt with Mahinmi and Plumlee and adding a passer in Augustin will offset some of the weaknesses that plagued this team last season. Adding Green helps too. I'm dubious that the changes will amount to an improvement, but give Indy credit for aggressively addressing a problem area.

    The final issue, as always, is fortune. The Pacers had good luck with health last season, as Hill was the only rotation player to miss more than six games, and they received another stroke of good luck with opponents shooting only 72.9 percent from the line, well below the 75.2 percent league average. (Indy benefited by about a full game in the standings from this.)

    They probably won't have quite as much buena suerte this season, but they probably won't need it either. In this conference, Indy looks like the biggest threat left to Miami's dominance.


    Prediction: 52-30, 1st in Central Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Good article, I can't argue with it. Objective comparison of DC and Augustin and fair to say that we overpaid Ian for his talents in a very questionable trade.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    If you swap Green's and Mahinmi's contracts it improves the offseason a bit for me, so I'll just look at it that way. Still funny how no one liked DC until we traded him.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    I didn't know that Inferno was such a negative asset inside the locker-room.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I didn't know that Inferno was such a negative asset inside the locker-room.
    Who says he was? The above is from Espn.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    They didnt throw in Collison to get rid of Dahntey. They added Dahntey too get rid of him period. That entire deal was based around Collison. Dallas lost Kidd and needed a pg.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Galen View Post
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    Who says he was? The above is from Espn.
    It's a pretty common thing for fans to say.

    I don't see it, Dahntay was the #1 cheerleader on the bench, our best energy guy off the bench, teammates interacted with him well...I hope he has a great career in Dallas.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I didn't know that Inferno was such a negative asset inside the locker-room.
    He also calls Morway Bird's right hand man even though they apparently hated each other. So...yeah.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    He also calls Morway Bird's right hand man even though they apparently hated each other. So...yeah.
    He was birds right hand man, the two aren't mutually exclusive. He was the GM and worked with Larry on alot of things, regardless of whether Larry liked him or not. Thus, "right hand man".

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Also, he says David West had an achilles injury? Good Lord Hollinger, get your nose out of your stats actually do some damn research.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    I think people would have liked him much better if we played him at SG more often, but this will be the first year in a while we have a legitimate backup SF. (And we will actually have a legitimate 3rd stringer too!)

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Collison gets destroyed by national media all season/playoffs long...gets traded, becomes a great PG.

    Statistically, Augustin is better passing and scoring than DC was...but reading that analysis was depressing to be sure.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    I haven't watched much preseason or Augustin but from all of the descriptions and stats he seems to be a mixture of both Collison and Price. Which can be both good and bad.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I didn't know that Inferno was such a negative asset inside the locker-room.
    It has been reported by multiple people that DJ was kind of a cancer in the locker room.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Not to hi-jack but I just received my ESPN the Magazine NBA preview issue. It disgusted me so much, I tossed it in the garbage without reading.

    I haven't seen this discussed, but here is the link:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/85...-espn-magazine

    They have us finishing 8th and the Hawks finishing 2nd:

    EAST
    Miami
    Atlanta
    New York
    Boston
    Philly
    Chicago
    Brooklyn
    Indiana

    Fail on so many levels.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    WOW! There are only two teams I could see realistically having a better record Miami and Boston, and that is it. Things can always prove otherwise, but to this point no one else has proven on the court to be just as capable as this Pacers team.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by HickeyS2000 View Post
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    Not to hi-jack but I just received my ESPN the Magazine NBA preview issue. It disgusted me so much, I tossed it in the garbage without reading.

    I haven't seen this discussed, but here is the link:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/85...-espn-magazine

    They have us finishing 8th and the Hawks finishing 2nd:

    EAST
    Miami
    Atlanta
    New York
    Boston
    Philly
    Chicago
    Brooklyn
    Indiana

    Fail on so many levels.
    That article is a joke.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by MyFavMartin View Post
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    That article is a joke.
    Agreed. And the western conference may be worse. They have Denver @ 1 and Minnesota @ 3, both above the Lakers @ 4. This garbage just made me decide to cancel my insider. I hope it has a reason field, so I can point to this article/magazine issue.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Galen View Post
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    Who says he was? The above is from Espn.
    Exactly. He's trying to justify the reason why the Pacers would trade for Mahinmi instead of signing him. However now that we see the quality of Ian's game and after you consider their other moves, it's very likely that the DC/DJ trade was CAP RELATED completely with the intention of signing Green and DJ, plus having room for some other looks (like Young and Gaines).

    If you remove some of the salary next year like Tyler, and depending on the market for West and DJ, it's not far-fetched to think they could bring the top 9 guys back plus Plumlee/Johnson/new draft on rookie deals to fill out the roster.


    I was right there wanting Scola like many people, but ultimately they put together a strong group as it is and one that isn't as financially screwed as people make it out to be, depending on market values and whom they want to keep.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    Exactly. He's trying to justify the reason why the Pacers would trade for Mahinmi instead of signing him. However now that we see the quality of Ian's game and after you consider their other moves, it's very likely that the DC/DJ trade was CAP RELATED completely with the intention of signing Green and DJ, plus having room for some other looks (like Young and Gaines).

    If you remove some of the salary next year like Tyler, and depending on the market for West and DJ, it's not far-fetched to think they could bring the top 9 guys back plus Plumlee/Johnson/new draft on rookie deals to fill out the roster.


    I was right there wanting Scola like many people, but ultimately they put together a strong group as it is and one that isn't as financially screwed as people make it out to be, depending on market values and whom they want to keep.
    I think this is 100% on point. I think it's very plausible that the "trade" with DC/DJ was purely to dump salary. With players like Sam Young out there, noone was going to willingly take DJones' ~3 mil contract, and so they parlayed DC (someone who clearly wasn't going to start on this team in the future) as an "asset" which to move DJones.

    I mean, they could have signed Mahinmi outright. It's the only explanation that makes any sense.

    I still hope that West gets swapped out for Millsap next offseason though.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    I enjoyed the article, as there was very little if any fluff. But I must say that after reading that I have no idea hopw the pacers won what equates to 52 games last season. From the article I would guess the Pacers to be a .500 team at best.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Can the Pacers' health last season really be considered a statistical anomaly? Wouldn't that assume every player in the league has an equal probability of getting injured? My problem with this article is that its logic ignores all other variables such as individual durability and how the minutes in the rotation were allocated (saying the Pacers starters played 253 more minutes than any other 5 teammates in the league may have nothing to do with injuries and could be better explained by factors such as how the Pacers rotation compared to other teams). I'm not saying health wasn't an advantage for us last year, but this article just uses shady logic to arrive at a pretty ridiculous conclusion.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    I agree with you about the injuriy/mpg connection. Seems the more players have to push through the fatique to remain on the floor after they are winded, the more the injuries pile up. The quick rotations Vogel used seemed to keep the straining and pushing injuries at bay. The conditioning of the Pacers in the off season last year had something to do with that also. Out of shape players seem to get more and worse injuries.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cousy47 View Post
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    Seems the more players have to push through the fatique to remain on the floor after they are winded, the more the injuries pile up.
    Someone should do a study on that. I think for the most part people believe that, although usually they do not acknowledge it until it is presented to them. It would be interesting to see if there is a scientific correlation between the two.

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    Default Re: Indiana Pacers: 2012-13 Forecast (ESPN Insider Article)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    I enjoyed the article, as there was very little if any fluff. But I must say that after reading that I have no idea hopw the pacers won what equates to 52 games last season. From the article I would guess the Pacers to be a .500 team at best.
    Looks like that's what they're shooting for.

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