Jim O’Brien is gone, and now you have been selected as the new coach of the Indiana Pacers. Your first task: choose your starting shooting guard for the season.
If coach JOB is known for anything, perhaps it is his inconsistency when it comes to his starting lineups. Too many times last year Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush would either play starter minutes on night, then the next day would get maybe seven or eight minutes total. Hard to get in a rhythm when you don’t even know on a given day if you are going to play 40 minutes, or four.
The Pacers nearly had the most different starting lineups last season, and hopefully that won’t continue this year. They key to getting a more consistent starting five is getting guys that you know are talented enough to earn the spot for the entire year. The Pacers now have three of those, in Collison, Granger, and Hibbert.
I have already posted my article on why Mangum Rolle deserves the starting PF position, and now I would like to discuss the options at SG.
Mike Dunleavy- A healthy Mike Dunleavy is something that Pacers fans, and NBA fans in general, haven’t seen in quite some time. Mike knows this is the year he needs to return to form. Can he get back to the guy that averaged nearly 20 points per game on year? If so, it probably won’t be this year. Starting the season on a clean bill of health never hurts though. If Dunleavy is truly “healthy” and can do some of the things that he has shown in the past, there is no reason not to go with him this year. Oh yeah, this is also the last year of his contract.
Dahntay Jones- When Dahntay came to Indiana, many people were excited to have a great defensive player on the team. The problem was he didn’t exactly fit into coach O’Brien’s offensive game plan. Jones provided some much needed defensive help and really created a spark with a nice dunk here and there, but outside of that there isn’t really much to talk about. He has been mentioned in trade rumors with T.J. Ford this off-season, so I would be surprised if he wins the starting job.
Brandon Rush- Brandon, the most inconsistent player the NBA has ever seen, apparently also loves the special brownies. Rush will be suspended for the first five games of the season, so don’t expect to see him as the starter anytime soon. His off-the-court issues aside, I believe he is still too inconsistent to give the starting job. I was really excited when we made the trade to get Brandon, but we have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for him to make us happy with the decision. Still waiting Brandon…
Lance Stephenson- Speaking of the off-the-court problems…We will have to take the wait-and-see approach with Lance, and what the team decides to do with him. He has showed some real promise since he was drafted, and was a standout in high school and college, but he has a history of problems. Even if the Pacers decide to keep him and get him in the rotation, I don’t see him getting the starting job.
Paul George/A.J. Price- A couple of wild cards here. George is really a Forward, and Price won’t be ready for the start of the season, so I don’t see either of these guys getting the job. George might be able to fit into this position, but he might be a bit too uncomfortable. The only other guard currently on the roster, besides all of these guys (and starting PG Collison), is T.J. Ford. I’m not even going to go there.
In the end, I think it is Dunleavy’s job to lose, if he is healthy. I believe if he can return to his once fantastic form, he should be our starting SG.
What do you think, coach?