ESPN recently gave these five questions to five different writers and see what their takes were. I decided to give out my own responses to these questions. They’re standard questions, but not always an easy answer to give out. This preseason probably hasn’t gone the way fans have hoped with the most recent loss, but I’ll continue to say that as long as the Pacers come out firing in the regular season, we’ll all forget this preseason. Even then this team could start out a bit slow as things all work to align together. I have to wonder how the bench will perform as that’s just been a downfall of the team. I have to wonder who gets the start, Lance Stephenson or Danny Granger. I have to wonder what improvements Paul George has made to his game. How about Roy Hibbert being ready to go from the start? Just some more questions that we can throw out to get this season going. Only 16 days till we start to see the answers to these questions. But let’s take a look at these five questions for the team right now.
1. What grade would you give the Pacers’ offseason?
I’m going with A for the grade as I feel good about the Pacers’ and their offseason. The big move was getting Paul George his big time contract, and now he’ll have to perform up to that. Also getting David West back with the team was a big move just to keep that continuity. Both guys were so important last year, so I love having them back in the fold. It was never a doubt that Paul George wouldn’t be back for the next year, but I like how the front office gets that deal done now to keep him here, and next summer, they can settle other moves that will come up, like Lance Stephenson and what to do with Danny Granger.
Looking over the other moves that were made, I like the deal to get Luis Scola here. He looks to be a consistent player, and hopefully he’ll fit right into that role of second unit player. Chris Copeland is that scorer that the team could really use. I don’t know what to make of C.J. Watson yet, but hopefully he’ll be that reliable back up point guard that this team just seems to lack. Solomon Hill, the draft pick, looks to be a good piece for the long term, so I don’t know if we’ll see too much of him this season. But overall, the team looks to settle those areas that they needed to, and they should all work out.
2. What’s the biggest question facing the Pacers in 2013-14?
The biggest question for me is What next step does Paul George make? He’s a guy that looked to make a huge leap last season, and now you wonder where he can go. Cutting down turnovers and working on his ball handling are the two areas where I will watch to see that Paul George has improved. If he does that, then everything else should be fine, and he’ll be an even player this year.
3. Who’s the Pacers’ most intriguing player?
The most intriguing player is Danny Granger. Even if he’s close to where he used to be, this will help the team. Getting out there for double figures in score every other night is something I would love to see. I don’t know if it actually happens, but I believe that should be the expectation for him off the bench or starting. But I want to see how Granger is performing as I do feel he’s so important.
4. What’s one bold prediction about the Pacers?
Team bold prediction: The Indiana Pacers make it to the NBA Finals. I truly believe that’s the goal of this team, so why not go with the bold prediction of that.
Player bold prediction: Paul George and Roy Hibbert make the Eastern Conference All Star team. I don’t know if it’s that bold since both guys should be good enough to be there. But I do think Hibbert could face some tough competition based upon there’s no “center” position player listed, so it’s all about the big men of the Eastern Conference. But if he builds upon what he did in last year’s postseason, and comes out on fire at the beginning of this season, he should be definitely considered, and hopefully there as an All Star. Paul George just needs to continue what he did last year, and make some growth to earn himself another All Star bid.
5. Prediction time: How far will the Pacers go next season?
The Indiana Pacers have to make it to the Conference Finals for this season to at least be a success. Sure, 55-60 wins would be awesome, but if they bow out in that first or second round, would those wins matter? That top seed could be up for grabs, so getting there would be a great prediction as well. Top Seed in the Eastern Conference and a trip back to the Conference Finals, there I’ll go with that.