Paul George spoke Friday afternoon for the first time since his gruesome injury during the US Select game back on August 1st in Las Vegas.
When Pacers.com asked George what’s left for this team, the Pacers star responded,
“This team is going to be a team that goes out there and competes. I look forward to them still having the same drive and the same commitment and being the team everybody loves in Indiana. I honestly, deep down believe this team can accomplish a lot this year with the additions we have and the new roles, guys working hard.”
What the Pacers can accomplish remains to be seen, but the current roster will have plenty opportunities. Those opportunities could be a blessing in disguise for the Pacers.
Roy Hibbert & George Hill - Both Hibbert and Hill have seen their times as “the weakest link” when it comes to the Pacers starting lineup. George Hill for his lack of aggression, and Hibbert for his inconsistent play. The departure of Lance Stephenson and injury to Paul George will put pressure on Hill and Hibbert to show up on a more regular basis.
This scenario could bode well for the Pacers, as it allows them to see if either player can step up their game for a full season. Hibbert, who has been the center of trade rumors all summer, will have a player option after this upcoming season. This season would allow the Pacers to showcase the big man for interested teams, as well as allows Roy a chance to be a go to guy in order to earn his next big contract.
George Hill will still have two years remaining on his deal after this season, but no Stephenson or Paul George should give the Pacers some flexibility with Hill. The Pacers could continue to use Hill as the starting point guard, but would be smart to try the hometown hero at shooting guard. Hill defends well for his size, and a transition to shooting guard would allow the Pacers to target a more traditional point guard in the 2015 offseason.
Solomon Hill - The Pacers 2013 1st round pick will likely get his opportunity at meaningful minutes this season. Solo only averaged 8 minutes in 28 games last year, and should get his chance to show the Pacers and their fans whether he was worth that first round selection.
Hill did a little of everything in college, averaging 13 points, 5 rebounds 3 assists, and a steal his senior year at Arizona. The Pacers will need Hill to do much of the same in the NBA this season. Whether it’s his coming out party for his Indiana future, or him serving as a better trade asset for the Pacers (see Miles Plumlee), the Pacers will need Solomon Hill to make the most of his opportunity.
C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, and Damjan Rudez - Signed this offseason to be key roles players, Miles, Stuckey and Rudez could now find themselves getting serious minutes. It was likely that either Stuckey or Miles would start alongside Paul George when the regular season opened, and now it’ s a possibility that both could start. Though the Pacers still figure to bring one off the bench, there should be plenty of minutes to go around.
Stuckey, who signed a 1 year deal, will have a chance to show a change of scenery was all he needed. That change of scenery could turn into a decent payday if Stuckey were to play well for the Pacers this year.
The Miles and Rudez signings were to help the Pacers stretch the floor, which they’ll need even more now in an offense that’s likely geared towards the low post games of David West and Hibbert. Rudez is a relatively unknown European sharpshooter, while Miles was a nice role player off the bench for the Cavs. The Pacers got a good look at Miles back in January when he put up 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in an 82-78 loss to the Pacers.
All three players should have a chance to show their value to the Pacers for this year and beyond.
Chris Copeland and Luis Scola - The backup power forward position is one that Pacers fans will pay a lot of attention to. Both players will be entering in the last year of their contract, and should be motivated by their future.
Scola is likely the early favorite to backup West. The Pacers traded Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and their 2014 1st round pick to acquire Scola, whom was hit and miss throughout last season. The misses lead to many fans chanting “We Want Copeland”, throughout Bankers Life Fieldhouse last year.
Even with the fans chanting his name, Copeland had a hard time getting his number called last year, averaging only 6 minutes in 41 games for the Pacers. The Pacers could use this season to see what they really have in Copeland, whom they signed away from the Knicks in 2013. Copeland would also give the Pacers another player that can stretch the floor, but must find time on the floor to do so.
Throughout the 82 game season, the Pacers front office should really have a chance to evaluate the talent they’ve acquired over the last couple years. Without their star player for likely the entire season, the Pacers have the opporunity to really dissect their roster, to determine who moves forward with the franchise….and who quite simply just moves.