Now that the Indiana Pacers have started up their training camp and build towards the preseason action, there are some questions that need to be looked upon. This season is going to be full of promise and hope to build upon what’s been happening the past few years. A second round defeat to the Miami Heat two years ago, and a game seven loss in the Conference Finals to the Heat led people wanting to know if the Pacers can indeed get over that hump and make a NBA Finals appearance. In my view, that would be the most successful way to end this season. I have little doubt that this team is talented enough and even better looking “on paper” than last season’s, therefore a Conference Finals trip should be expected. But you have to wonder what new pieces in Chris Copeland, C.J. Watson, Luis Scola, maybe even the draft pick of Solomon Hill fit in. And how the old piece of Danny Granger works his way back to action. Having only played in five games last season, Granger looked to slowly show some signs of good things. But it wasn’t enough to hold up those knees of his as he ends up missing the rest of the season after those five games. Leads me to the first question.
How is Danny Granger going to fit?
That’s the question that seems to keep coming back around and around. And well, the only answer to give is wait and see. I know that’s quite the “cliched” answer, but truly the real time action of a game will tell us how Granger fits into this team now. Sure, he can say the right things about feeling good and ready to go, but how in fact do you know until you’re in that real speed mode of a game. Just like football preseason is so vastly different from regular season, so is the basketball season. I don’t think we can even tell that much from a preseason basketball game as most of the time guys aren’t out there ready to play. Danny Granger might have to step it up this preseason just to make sure his body is full ready as the Pacers could use just that extra bit of scoring punch and even his defensive presence at times. It leads into the next question of Lance Stephenson and him vying for that starting role.
Who starts: Danny Granger or Lance Stephenson?
I think ultimately you go with Granger, and even Coach Vogel has said that both guys will play starter minutes, so in a way, it might not matter who gets that call. I think for Lance Stephenson, it could be a great way to get his name out that as a viable sixth man, and even draw some attention to how important he is to this team. He’s a guy that brings that energy to the team, and really can get them going in the right direction. That would be something I think gets missing from the starting unit, but could really be a boost to the bench unit.
Can the bench improve this season?
This is something that I think is a bit of a reach to worry about. As long as a bench could hold a lead or build upon a lead, that’s really the goal. But I understand fans worrying so much about a second unit that can perform. Consistently. That’s the key to me, how does this new crop of bench guys work together to build something consistently? We have some good pieces in Chris Copeland and Luis Scola. Hopefully, they can fit in right away, and give those starters some time to breath. But really, last season, the starters played so much, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all this season to see more of the same. It’s nice to have those second unit guys to come in, and carry the load for a bit. I just have to see it to believe it for these new pieces.